After Devastating Wildfires, 90-Year-Old Gives $1,000 to Every Paradise High School Student

In the aftermath of the Camp Fire in Paradise – the worst-ever wildfire in California, with 85 confirmed deaths and 11 residents still missing – many generous people are bringing hope to the thousands of homeless survivors.

One of them is 90-year-old Bob Wilson. Even though he had never before visited Paradise, Wilson handed out $1,000 checks to every student and staff member of Paradise High School last week. 

“I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘How can I help?’” explained Wilson, who made his money in real estate development and restaurant ownership

The stories of the Paradise High School students moved him the most, especially because he has wonderful memories of his own time in high school.

“High school had a great impact on my life,” Wilson told the Associated Press. “In fact, I would say it was the first, last and only truly carefree time.”

“I made the decision within two or three minutes of reading the news, that I would like to give these kids something,” he told NBC News

On Giving Tuesday, Wilson arrived in Chico — the closest city to the decimated town of Paradise — with two suitcases stuffed with $1,000 checks, each of which he had personally signed. There were enough for Paradise High School’s 980 students and 105 staff members, including teachers, bus drivers and janitors.

In all, Wilson handed out around $1.1 million.

The fire destroyed all but one of the schools in Paradise, leaving around 5,000 students without a home. But the school district is planning to re-open on December 3 in makeshift locations.

“We are not going anywhere,” the district posted on its website. “We are Ridge Strong. Please take care of yourself and your families, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.”

And Bob Wilson is not the only one bringing much-needed aid.

Local Volunteers Making a Difference

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, about 170 miles south of Paradise, and our community has been very active in donating money, gift cards, clothing, diapers, tents, tarps and more. One volunteer has driven to Chico numerous times bringing help to people who have lost everything.

Here’s her report from a November 23 visit:

I’ve just returned from Chico delivering the gift cards some of you generously donated. I can’t begin to describe the devastation up there. I walked from tent to tent at the Walmart in Chico handing out tarps as the rain fell hard. I’ve adopted four families and met up with them today to deliver some items they specifically requested (a hoodie, diapers, a toy) as well as gift cards. Every family humbly accepted the items, not wanting to take more than they needed, stressing “Doesn’t someone else need it?”

A few days later, she reported that one of her adopted families had just been gifted an RV by a total stranger in Washington State. The man drove down and dropped it off for them for free. 

After our embarrassing and cold-hearted president visited Paradise — and couldn’t even get the name correct, calling it “Pleasure,” before suggesting that things might be different if forest management strategies included raking – it’s heartwarming to know that Trump does not represent what the American people stand for.

How to Help

Here are a few other ways people have reached out to help the wildfire survivors:

  • Paradise Adopt A Family” is a Facebook group set up to connect families who have been affected by the Paradise Fire to families that want to provide support. It already has over 26,000 members.
  • The town of Chico provided Thanksgiving dinner for 15,000 people, cooking up 7,000 pounds of turkey.

And wherever you live, you can read about how to help the wildfire survivors here.

Since my own home burned down six years ago, I know firsthand how important the support of friends and family were at the time; as they brought food, provided shelter and helped us salvage what we could, I felt the love and warmth that comes with knowing people cared about us.

I learned from my experience that although I need food and clothes to survive, it is the deep, nurturing relationships with my fellow human beings that sustain me.

Photo Credit: Sharon Hahn Darlin/Flickr

38 comments

Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer7 days ago

God bless this man.

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer7 days ago

There ARE good RICH people.

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Glennis W
Glennis W8 days ago

Great info Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W8 days ago

Great information Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W8 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W8 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Naomi D
Naomi Dreyer8 days ago

It's good to read this kind of article - there are and have been many RICH people who gave lots of money for this and other disasters but the general public does not know.about them (but God knows)

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Leo C
Leo C8 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Pam Bruce
Pam Bruce8 days ago

Thank you. These kids need something positive happening and this was a wonderful gesture.

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN h8 days ago

tyfs

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