A San Diego man has decided to pass out checks to students and staff from Paradise High School in an effort to lift their spirits as they recover from the ravaging Camp Fire.
The blaze has scorched more than 150,000 acres and all but decimated the entire Paradise community. As of Friday evening, it had taken 84 lives and was 95-percent contained.
Bob Wilson, 89, has been following coverage of the fire from his Rancho Santa Fe home since it sparked on Nov. 8. He heard horror stories from survivors who not only lost their homes and property, but their entire town.
When he thinks back on his years at Escondido High School, he reminisces about “idyllic” times -- idyllic times that Paradise High School students are missing out on.
Moved to do something to help heal their pain, Wilson decided to write $1,000 checks to the 980 students and 105 staff members the school.
“If I can just raise their spirits, I don’t want anything more than that. That would be compensation enough,” he said.
The money comes with no strings attached. Wilson doesn’t care what it’s spent on, he just hopes it brings them positivity during a disastrous time.
“I don't care. They can buy a bicycle if they want, have video games, I don't care. I just want them to have the freedom to this, and as I said, just lift their spirits. That's all I want out of this,” he said.
Wilson remembers the help he received when a fire broke out at one of the fish market restaurants he co-owns. People stepped up to help him even though he didn’t ask, almost as if it were human instinct.
He hopes his donation to the Paradise High community will inspire others to give, too.
“If you have a good intention to do something and you don't do it, it’s just a good intention. It doesn't go any further than that,” Wilson said. “So, I hope they go beyond saying, ‘Gee, I want to help out,’ and then not do something about it.”
Wilson plans to pass the checks out at the school on Tuesday.