Our prayers go out to the families who's lives have been touched by the recent California fire's.
Kristen and Amy, high school chums, are homeschooling their children together.
Both Kristen's children and and Amy's child gave up most of their Halloween fun to participate in lending a hand to fire victims...with never one word of complaint.
Working together both homeschooling families spent a very long day, which began when they met others at The Hawthorne Center at 10:30 a.m. Most had a very long drive to reach the center, where they assembled several hundred "goodie bags", many not returning home until well after 7 p.m., to help ensure other children didn't miss out on halloween entirely.
Concerned about children who had been relocated to evacuation centers, sleeping in strange beds, cots or sleeping bags, facing a dark night, the idea was to gather essentials and provide flashlights or glow sticks to children that could be used as night lights. Being away from familiar surroundings, without the benefit of precious treasures, can be traumatic for small children. So, the families set out to host a party to cheer up the little ones, complete with clowns, face painting and games.
Read about a homeschool adventure in community service, as Amy tells of their attempts to provide assistance to fire victims, which turned out to be no easy task.
When I returned home on Thursday night I was very pleased to see that my front porch had disappeared under a heaping pile of donations.
Thanks to all who dropped items off, every little bit helped.
With all the donations we received, we were able to make up about 300+ goody bags. We also had a large amount of clothing, books, toiletries, and party supplies.
We were very excited....until the Red Cross called to say that they did not want us to come and set up a party at our appointed time of 1:00.
They had large corporate sponsors (like Radio Disney) that were going to do that for them instead.
After a lot more phone calls, we decided to take everything to a shelter in Fontana - one that was supporting victims who's houses had actually burned. After arriving at that facility, we came to find out that they were shutting down - Good news that they were not needed, bad news for us.
We were escorted by a very nice police officer to the closest fire station to locate a needy shelter.
The day was passing, but we were determined!
We were a bit pepped up that our kids go a mini tour of the station and someone else was making the phone calls. After a very long day, it was finally determined to take our items as a general donation to the San Bernardino Airport/Norton Air Force Base.
As we approached, we saw tents, fire trucks, police, and a massively organized system. We were directed to the donation area. We line up in our cars for the next 45 minutes (at least) to get to the drop off point.- There were that many people donating items!
It was good to see such an out pouring of support. The Salvation Army was helping direct and organize all the donations - all helpful and with a smile on their face.
So, in the end, everything got to a place where it could be of help. Thanks go to Kristen W. and family for organizing and gathering donations, Donna for letting us use her studio to organize, and Connie T., Michelle (16), Nora B., Jenesey (7), Curtis (3), and my own daughter Kaylee (5) for donating your time as well as stuff. Again, thank you again to those who went out of their way to drop off items at our houses.
I'm Mary from Lake Arrowhead, evacuated to Oceanside. I made the trek up to the shelter yesterday and I have to tell you that it was a very emotional day to see how something that monumental can be organized in less than a week!
It was really something to see all the volunteers helping with every step of the way--someone offered to carry my food boxes to my car, a little girl volunteer held up a bag full of bags of chips and offered me some. Someone in line at the mail pick-up window told me to be sure to check in with the Lions' (service org) table. I cried when they handed me $100 gift certificate from Staters (remember, all of us who have homes left have no food left in our fridges or freezers--that's a real hit in the budget to lose all of it! And we're not talking about homeschooling science experiments lurking in the back of the fridge, LOL!
I just want you to get a feel for how appreciated all you donors and volunteers are by those of us who are displaced.
The stop to the Salvation Army was equally amazing.
I never thought *I* would be the one thrilled to get a new toothbrush and toothpaste, and a bottle of sunscreen and shampoo!
We waited in line for an hour to get 15 minutes time to grab whatever we needed. My hubby and I were able to grab lots of GOOD food.
I knew I could find a jacket at a local thrift store, so I went for the food. Who would have thought we would leave the mountain in summer and returning winter??? Lunch was courtesy of a stranger who pulled up in a Lexus with two catering trays of yummy chicken sandwiches!
The government's "one-stop disaster relief center" was incredible! In one hour, I found out that even though we are self-employed, we qualify for disaster unemployment assistance! FEMA and the SBA were there to answer all our questions and give us forms, along with 30 or so other agencies in one giant room.
Today, we went to a potluck dinner at a house in Corona Del Mar that was loaned by someone from my Web site (homeschoolchristian.com) to our pastor, and were thrilled to discover that they had that their own little clothing drive and we were all able to get some clothes! Most of us left with no clothing, or only 1-2 days clothing.
Evacuees are spread far and wide. I have friends who evacuated to Northern California, and to Las Vegas, and there are a few of us here in the San Diego area. I bumped in to a neighbor at Costco in Vista, LOL!
Enough babbling...I just want you to get a feel for how appreciated all you donors and volunteers are by those of us who are displaced. I am fortunate, my home is OK (eye witness reports), and we will probably be allowed access in a week (we're not being allowed back yet). We probably won't be able to live there for another 2 weeks because there are no utilities (at all), and it's 35 degrees up there!
Thanks from the bottom of my heart, and I know I speak for many others! I will let you all know if there are any homeschool families who are in need.
Mary was a homeschooling mom who passed away in 2007. She is greatly missed by her family, friends and many homeschoolers around the country.
Updated December 3, 2008
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