CHICO -- Teachers and students in the Paradise area still don’t have classrooms to go to even though school is scheduled to reopen next Monday.
Wherever they end up, a couple of teachers have taken it upon themselves to collect badly needed classroom items to help them restart their classes.
The multi-purpose room at Hooker Oaks Elementary School in Chico was full after classroom supplies continued to arrive by the hour. Kindergarten teacher Monica Brown and Orland teacher Amy Nies brainstormed a way to help teachers in Paradise reform their classrooms from scratch.
They created a flyer asking for items to help Paradise teachers restart their classrooms from scratch after they were destroyed in the devastating Camp Fire. The flyer got more reach than expected when it was shared 6,000 times on their Facebook site Color our Classroom with Love.
“All of the things that you’re looking at here were donated by people from all over the country,” said Monica Brown, organizer with Color a Classroom with Love.
The two created an Amazon Wish List and donations of notebooks, crayons, shelving, easels, books and backpacks have been arriving at Brown's home ever since. Items have been donated from all over the country and as far away as England and the Bahamas.
“We had no idea it would get this big, the packages just keep rolling in,” Brown said.
Donations from Galt and Elk Grove arrived Monday, as well as a load from a girl scout troop in El Dorado Hills. They included some notes of encouragement as well.
“'You can beat that fire Paradise, it will be OK,'” Brown read.
The wish list is kid approved and items are often donated by other sympathetic teachers.
“To build a classroom it takes years and years and years to collect your items and for them to just be gone in an instant is heartbreaking,” Brown added.
Some of the items are left over from donations to other disasters, including last year's fire that devastated areas of Santa Rosa.
The idea is to have an open giveaway for teachers who will be there on Saturday. They hope to pick up items they will need to start school again on Dec. 3, whether it be in an empty retail space, a trailer or a donated portable classroom.
“At least having some supplies to build a new classroom will give them some comfort and a sense of normalcy again,” Brown said.
The giveaway will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Hooker Oak Elementary School in Chico, where supplies are being collected. If you want to help you can go to the Color a Classroom with Love Facebook group to be connected to the Amazon Wish List site.