Celebrating together amid our post-fire war

This will be a holiday season unlike any other ever experienced here in Butte County. The Camp Fire and its aftermath have redefined our lives.

Together, we have experienced an unimaginable hardship and a terrible loss of life and property. As a community, many of us were not directly affected. All of us have been indirectly affected. Who does not know personally of someone who experienced direct loss?

Recovery will come someday. The damaged towns and neighborhoods will arise, but it never will be the same. What shall we do?

I am an old man. I personally remember World War II. I was a toddler during that war, but toddlers have memories. I lived in another small college town, Claremont, in Southern California. My father was on active duty; he was not a part of my early childhood. My neighborhood became my family. I would pedal my tricycle up and down sidewalks, unaware of the number of older neighbors—men and women—who looked out for me. That is how it was during The War.

Butte County has now experienced its own war. Paradise is mostly destroyed. We must now look after our friends and neighbors who have come out on the other side of this tragedy.

No matter what your faith or belief system may be, most of us celebrate in late December. However we celebrate, this season we must reach out and touch and include others. Celebrate together.

There are myriad ways to help survivors; just find an effort comfortable for you and your family.

The North Valley Community Foundation is an effective channel for financial support. Community organizations like the Salvation Army and the Red Cross will have a need for volunteers. Places of worship and service clubs are doing good things for the “lost community.”

No effort is greater than one individual reaching out to another. So many times already I have overheard people ask others, “How are you doing? How can I help?”

Just reach out. Others need you.