Local businesses help arson victim get back to work

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SAN DIEGO -- Some local businesses came to the aid of a hardworking gardener who lost his livelihood last week when an arsonist burned his pickup and all of his tools.

Gnoc Luu's truck was torched early Friday morning. He said he parked it on Wightman Street, like he does every night, but Friday at about 2:30 a.m., someone set fire to the vegetation in the truck bed, and the blaze destroyed his gardening tools and gutted the truck.

"I work so hard to get this, and now it's taken away from me," he told FOX 5 News on Friday.

A number of people who saw the story last week contacted FOX 5 offering to help Luu. One business, Toyota of Poway, offered to replace his truck. On Wednesday, a representative of the dealership presented Luu with a late model Toyota Tacoma.

"From all the employees and the owner of Toyota Poway, we'd like to give you a helping hand and the keys to a new vehicle," said Rob Bartolo of Toyota of Poway.

Luu is a self-employed gardener and he hasn't been able to work since the fire.  He works in San Diego, but he sends much of his earnings to family members in Vietnam. Dixieline Lumber and a FOX 5 viewer chipped in to fill the truck bed with gardening tools so that Luu can get back to work.

"We had seen the story on the news and just felt obligated to help the man get his life back in order," Bartolo said. "It was such a tragic, life-changing event. Not only did they take his means of transportation but his livelihood away from him."

"He's the type of person who would be shopping with us, and we felt compelled to do something for him," said Mike Solomon of Dixieline.

Mike Paschalydis saw Luu's story. He doesn't own a large business, but he was moved by Luu's plight, so he called FOX 5 to volunteer to help.

"I saw a man lose his livelihood, break down, and have no way to regain his livelihood. It pulled on my heart strings and I felt that I had to give him assistance any way I could," Paschalydis said.

Luu was overwhelmed by the generosity of those who helped him get back to work.

"You saved my life," he said with a huge smile.

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