CHICO — Christmas this year is very different for thousands of families who lost everything in the Camp Fire but some kind strangers made it their mission to make sure they still still had a merry Christmas.
With presents, food and even a visit from Santa Claus, this Christmas was one many Butte County kids won’t forget and one they desperately needed after losing everything in the Camp Fire.
One by one, kids were visited by Santa. Some asked for the usual gifts.
“I really want a pogo stick or Nintendo Switch games,” one child said.
Other requests were unexpected.
“I want everybody to have their homes back,” another child said.
“That is very nice,” Santa replied. “I hope everybody can have that too. That will be in time, huh?”
Nonprofits worked together to make the holiday celebration extra special.
“A warm welcome, there’s gifts and gift cards. They’re getting food and a lot of love,” said Michael Capponi, founder of Global Empowerment Mission.
The Christmas lunch in Chico was put on by the Global Empowerment Mission and reality TV star Bethenny Frankel’s BStrong Disaster Relief program. It gave kids a chance to just be kids again on the merriest day of the year.
“I never expected so much love and compassion from our community and our country. It’s moving,” said father Dale Miller.
It was a gesture that meant the world to Miller as he watched his two girls pose with Santa. Miller was in the process of adopting Layla and Jazzylynn and wanted to make this Christmas extra special but with his home destroyed in the fire, it was tough.
“There’s just not anything left. They said, ‘It wasn’t a fire. It was an incinerator,'” Miller said. “We just pray and every day it’s getting a little better.”
With full bellies, presents for his girls and a little hope restored, Miller said he has everything to be thankful for this Christmas.
“All these beautiful things in life we should never take for granted. Today is no exception by far,” Miller said.
The Global Empowerment Mission and the B Strong Initiative aren’t finished helping Camp Fire victims. If you want to pitch in, click HERE.