Home and School would like to thank each and every one of you that donated to the Paradise Camp Fire Drive! With all the generous donations and the 'call to offering', $7000 in gift cards and cash, as well as over 100 wrapped toys, were collected! Thank you!
On Tuesday, Dec, 18, Judi Barrett and I left Escondido at 4 am, before any of you were probably even awake, and began our journey with a van packed full of desserts and toys! As soon as we pulled into the parking lot of Chico Adventist Academy, after an 11 hour drive, we went to work setting up for the reception that took place after their Christmas program. Luckily, all we had to do was to put out the desserts and make the hot chocolate and apple cider for the 400 people at the reception. Once the reception was over, we helped clean up the entire gym. Normally, they would have parents bring desserts for the reception, but under the circumstances, they were extremely grateful for the desserts that we provided!
After getting to bed around 11:30 pm, we were up at 5 am on Wednesday to begin the day. After providing a light breakfast for 12 faculty members of the Chico Adventist School, we started the breakfast burritos for the 220 students and faculty of Paradise Adventist Academy! Do you know how long it takes to scramble over 400 eggs? Well, let me tell you...it takes
! Judi and I were a little panicked about how just the two of us were going to scramble 400 eggs, cook four pans of beans, eight pans of tater tots and get all the other stuff together in time to feed everyone! Thankfully, four gentlemen peeked their heads into the kitchen and asked if we needed help! YES...we yelled! Poor guys didn't realize what they were getting themselves into...but, with their help, we were able to have everything ready for the students! They even cleaned up for us!!! What a huge blessing they were! The kids and teachers were so grateful for a hot yummy breakfast. One teacher even said they were not sure if they were even going to be able to get a breakfast that day.
After breakfast and cleanup, we began the fun task of handing out the toys and gift cards. In my head, I had pictured Judi and I going to each class, bringing the students out to a festive Christmas tree located in the lobby and giving them their gifts. However, things don't always work out as planned. It is pretty chaotic up there. The PAA classrooms are scattered about in the church and gym and students are wandering about. We just rolled with it! We hauled the boxes of toys from our van, separated them into age groups and placed them on a rolling cart and visited each classroom. Some classrooms opened their gifts right away, and some teachers preferred to wait until the next day.
One kindergarten girl looked at me and said, "Today seems magical!" That right there was worth everything!
Three students from the Chico Adventist Academy had lost their homes and their principal reached out to us to let us know. Luckily, we were able to fill three boxes full of toys for those three students, as well as provide toys for PAA's after school care and for preschoolers who go to the church!
Each high school student was given a $50 gift card to Target and each faculty member received either $100 or $150 in gift cards! They were thrilled and very appreciative! !
All of the activities at the school took much longer then we had anticipated, so we did not have time to drive into Paradise as we had planned. . We barely had time to grab a bite to eat before we headed to the airport to return our rental van and fly home to our families.
They have a very long road ahead of them. Not only are the Paradise faculty members and families exhausted, but there has been so much strain put on the community of Chico, which has stepped up and housed/fed/supported everyone who has lost homes. We need to remember all of them in our prayers.
All in all, it was a huge success. In the grand scheme of things, a $50 gift card is not going to change anything. However, they know that they have brothers and sisters at Escondido Adventist Academy who are thinking of them and praying for them.
Home and School President