Editor’s note: Support for those fighting the Cranston Fire and those who suffered loss came from many in the community. If you know of organizations and individuals who could be acknowledged, please contact Marshall Smith at [email protected].
If you live in Idyllwild, you have some sense that in times of danger, loss and need, town folk come together to help, in ways big and small.
Whether it’s searching for a missing man and his dog, sending money to Hurricane Katrina victims or taking care of our own, Idyllwild is a town of local heroes. These heroes don’t seek acknowledgement. They give from the heart when they see suffering and need.
As we experience the joy of Hanukkah and Christmas, and prepare for a new year, readers suggested the Town Crier, as part of its end-of-year review, write about those who showed up and helped during and after the Cranston Fire.
This article is the first to acknowledge these local heroes. There will be more stories about those who fought the fire, those who helped feed first responders, and the many residents who came together to assist families who lost homes and treasured belongings, lost work income because of prolonged evacuation, had to pay for evacuation living expenses, replace food spoiled because of loss of electrical power and other exigent needs resulting from the fire.
The Idyllwild Library created a wall of “Local Heroes” — thank yous to individuals and businesses who helped during and after the fire. The heroes’ names are featured separately from the particular gift or gifts given, in a deft acknowledgment that no one asked to be recognized. Residents posted gratitude for such things as: “checking on my cats and giving me peace of mind;” “offering a couch for Sugar and cat and I;” “keeping me company;” “texting and keeping me informed” and many other gracious deeds. All the notes touchingly show the many thoughtful gifts townsfolk gave to others.
Some post-fire gifts were often large beyond what a town as small as ours might be expected to raise: more than $900 for the Idyllwild Community Fund at a Sandii Castleberry wiffleball tournament; $10,737 in donations to the ICF with the Community Foundation of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties matching up to $10,000 for a total of more than $20,000.
Shannon Ng, ICF president, reported that the Community Foundation’s $10,000 match would go to the Idyllwild Help Center, because of their case management ability to track how donations are spent. “The balance of $10,737 [how it is spent] can be decided by ICF but must go to nonprofits set up to help in this specific area [i.e. Cranston Fire relief],” she said.
Soroptimist Theresa Teel noted her organization wrote six $500 checks for those who lost homes. “It’s not something we budgeted for, but we felt it was something we had to do,” she said. “There were people out of work, people who didn’t have insurance. We knew we had to help.”
Kathy Wilson and her Young Idyllwild crew, with the help of local musician Brian Parnell, staged a series of concerts in August that raised $42,500 from donations, silent auctions and merchandise. In association with the Help Center, another $955 was raised through T-shirt sales to be used by the Help Center for Cranston Fire victims. The $42,500 raised from the three days of concerts at local venues was paid out through grant applications to residents who had lost homes, income and other needs, according to Wilson.
The Art Alliance of Idyllwild raised $5,000 through a special musical event held on Sept. 9. According to AAI Secretary Peter Szabadi, the money was paid directly to four local individuals who lost their homes in the fire.
There are other organizations and individuals who also raised money. We will have some of their stories in next week’s article.