Need a little help for families who lost everything.
Even in a state like Colorado, with a citizenry that is hyper aware of the danger of wildfires, this Northern California fire, unassumingly named #campfire has for some reason, seemed so far away. I have casually watched news reports about it all week out of the corner of my eye and shallowly “dug deeper” by searching the hashtag #campfire on Twitter, but I’ll admit that was mostly to watch the sometimes terrifying fire videos shot by those escaping and or fighting the inferno.
“I hope they are ok”.
“Thoughts and prayers”.
“I can’t imagine what "they" must be going through”
blah blah blah....
Despite seeing this real life horror show so intimately in the age of smartphone videos I must admit that I remained mostly disconnected to the reality of the “numbers” and rising death count perhaps because the numbers are truly so difficult to comprehend.
As of today 11/17/18
· 71 confirmed fatalities
· 1,011 listed as unaccounted and missing
· 11,862 structures destroyed
· 9,700 single family homes burned to the ground
· Approximately 52,000 people housed in shelters.
52,000+ Americans just lost everything the owned the week before THANKSGIVING and are currently living in shelters and camping in parking lots. They lost their homes, pets, cars, businesses, all of their belongings and in some cases loved ones…all of it was gone in an instant.
This fire started at sunrise on Thursday November 8, 2018. The 10’s of thousands residents of the town of Paradise, CA had almost no warning of the imminent danger...most of those that perished died in their homes when the fire blew into town riding 70 mph winds. 90% of the town was reduced to ashes in minutes.
Everything and almost everyone who did not flee were incinerated.
Overwhelmed and feeling like had to do something I browsed the Chico, CA Craig’s list site where many of the evacuees are in shelters and the need for temporary housing is mind boggling. FEMA is not expected to have portable shelters in place for as long as 3 months.
52,000+ people are sleeping in tents, on cots in gyms and on church pews tonight and every night for the foreseeable future.
Nearly everyone who made it out alive is now homeless.
One shelter located in a community church in Chico that is sheltering 179 of the displaced now has a Norovirus outbreak (vomiting and diarrhea) with 21 confirmed cases and counting.
There is a desperate need for housing.
Even temporary housing.
But what can I do? What can we do?
Chico, CA may be a 19 hour drive from Denver but these are our neighbors. We have to do something.
Surely we can find a way to get at least one family in a place they can call home for now until they are in a position to figure out which way is up again.
I kept browsing and then I found someone on Craigslist offering a free site hookup for an RV near Chico.
Ok, then lets buy an RV and give it to a family who needs it in time for Thanksgiving.
I put an ad on Denver, Colorado craigslist asking for an RV donation and hopefully a like minded person who feels the need to do something too will donate their old RV/Motor Home. But that's a long shot. I recognize that this is a big ask.
I know without question that my community of family and friends and those who just want to help can and will help find an RV that will help someone. I’ve messaged most of the people selling RV’s in Denver to see if they would be willing to donate or discount their RV for sale. Will see what responses I get from that effort.
$12,900 would buy someone an RV like this with beds and a fridge, a shower and a kitchenette. This would be life changing, a simple ray of hope, for someone with a family currently living in a tent.
I already took off work next week and with your help, we will find an RV somehow and then we will fill it up with diapers and formula and anything else that is needed and I will drive it to California, donate the supplies to those who need the supplies and then hand the keys and the title of the RV to a displaced family for Thanksgiving.
Then we will fly back Denver.
back to work.
and back to school...
and life will go on like normal for us.
And hopefully life will begin to feel a little more “normal” for someone who has lost everything they owned to this horrific fire.
How fortunate we all are to have a place that we call home at Thanksgiving. Never take it for granted because it all could be gone in an instant.
My primary motivation here is to remind myself, friends and family how much we all have to be thankful for and more importantly to make sure that at least one family in California, who lost everything in an instant, will have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving too.
We will find the right family; we will fully vet them for need and make sure this gift goes to a those who genuinely need it. There are so many. I am actively working with a firefighter friend to try and find a firefighter or other first responder with a family who lost their home but of course am open to donating the RV to any family who has been affected by this disaster. I will share details of prospective families (with their permission of course) to all donors and ask for your help picking the right family to deliver this gift to.
If you know anyone who benefit from this initiative please contact me with as much detail about their current situation as possible and they will of course considered.
We have less than a week to do this. If we leave Denver Tuesday, we will arrive in California in plenty of time for Thanksgiving. When I told my 6 y/o about our plans for Thanksgiving she said that God and Santa will be really happy with us for doing this and I think that she’s probably right.
If we come up short of the necessary funds to buy an RV then we will donate 100% of the proceeds to fire relief efforts in the Paradise, CA area. I will be completely transparent with all use of funds.
Thank you for considering and Happy Thanksgiving!