Creek Fire Support
By Seleyna Mendoza, Managing Editor
AS THE FIRE tore through our beloved mountains on the eve of the Labor Day weekend, you could not help but wonder in astonishment how the year 2020 had become so catastrophic. Fires in California are nothing new; however, having to experience them in our backyard hurt a lot of us, deeply. Watching the smoke billow into the sky, while keeping an eye on the news for updates on the size and direction of the fire, really brought fear into our hearts.
It was devastating to see the places we hold so dear to and love to visit year-round literally going up in smoke. The Creek Fire was one of the biggest fires in California history, ravaging the mountain communities on both sides of the San Joaquin River near Mammoth Pool, Shaver Lake, Big Creek, and Huntington Lake.
In the midst of this tragedy, one staff member at Matilda Torres High School, HOSA Advisor, Jennifer Williams, knew that she could not just sit around and do nothing. Williams gathered a group of staff members, including Activities Director Bryan Speed, to come up with a way to help. The decision was easy; they would put together a Creek Fire donation drive.
When asked why they were motivated to gather donations, Bryan Speed said, \we wanted to be able to give back to our community and those affected by the fire. One of our core values at THS is Selflessness; we wanted to be able to model that for our students by giving our community an opportunity to offer support.·
They got to work and came up with a plan to gather the donations. They reached out to local agencies for partnerships and created flyers to inform the community. They hosted the donation drive over several days from September 10 – 16 at Torres High School, and members of the community jumped into action and donated what they could.
In compliance with COVID-19 regulations, they tried to limit physical interactions with people as much as possible. They had a station set-up at the campus entrance, where people dropped off items throughout the day, and at the day:s end, would pack everything up to be delivered to a distribution location.
They were able to donate more than 500 items, which included: cases of water and sports drinks, chips, instant soup, granola bars, toothpaste, toothbrushes, brushes/combs, bars of soap, deodorant sticks, shaving razors, shaving cream, coloring books, baby wipes, bales of animal shavings, gift cards, feminine hygiene products, socks, puppy pads, small animal bowls, and animal food.
They partnered with the Chowchilla PD, Madera Sheriff:s Dept, Madera PD, Fresno PD, Fresno Sheriff:s Dept, Local Evacuation Centers, and Madera Farm Bureau for Animal Evacuation Centers to assist with the distributions. Personal hygiene items were given to La Quinta in Clovis, a designated site for evacuees to get supplies, and food and drink items were given to FSO to deliver to Cal-Fire and first responders. Torres HOSA helped coordinate the deliveries!
One of the highlights throughout the project for Mr. Speed was, seeing the Torres High School community come together for a great cause and seeing everyone jump in to lend a hand and do what they could to give back.
However, donations did not stop there. At the district office, The Linkage Foundation also collected gift cards to be given to the employees and families affected by the fires for their immediate needs of food, gas, clothing, and other necessities.
Even as the ominous skies seemed to loom over us, these acts of kindness showed proof that even in our darkest hours, the community of Madera and Madera Unified can rapidly band together to help provide a glimmer of hope to those who need it.