San Jose students launch letter writing and coin drives to help Camp Fire victims

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The smoke in the Bay Area's air from the Camp Fire has become a call to action for school kids in San Jose. They want people living in shelters in Butte County to feel the kindness of strangers, so they're sitting down and writing letters of support.

It started because eighth graders in a leadership class wanted to do something to help victims of the Camp Fire. This generation of young people, more attuned to texting than writing, decided to compose letters to people living in two Red Cross shelters.

Eighth grader Salvador Elsondo read aloud his letter, "Here at Sylvandale Middle School, we are sending letters to Paradise, not only sending letters but in those letters we're also going to be sending our prayers, our hope, faith and just everything we can to support them."

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In a single day, they've produced 40 letters but intend to have all 578 students at Sylvandale Middle School participate.

"They lost so much stuff like, due to the fire, and so we hope that our letters of love and support can like cheer them up," said Brianna Garcia, another eighth grader.

"I hope to give them faith again," said classmate Natasha Berton. "And to know that even though we are miles away, a lot of us do care about what happened, and I think it's a horrible tragedy."

Leadership and social studies teacher Ashley Frost believes this is only the beginning of her students expanding their perspectives.

"I'm noticing there is a desire and a need, that they want to do more and they want to do more and they want to do more," she said.

The desire to help others is spreading in the Franklin-McKinley School District. At Windmill Springs Elementary, fourth grade teacher Lauren Boyd is collaborating with students to do a coin drive to raise money for fire victims.

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"It's important to me because my mom, she used to live in Paradise and I just don't want to see all those kids struggling because she told me that like, it's really hard on them," said Vivian Aranda, a seventh grade student.

They'll be setting out donation jars this week.

You could call this an exercise in student activism. Even at their young age, they believe they can make a difference.

See more stories, photos and videos on the Camp Fire in Butte County.
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