MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford's Italian sister city helped raise money for a donation of nearly $5,000 to the Phoenix-Talent Schools Fire Relief Fund, the Medford-Alba Sister City Association announced on Monday.
"Our friends in Alba were devastated to hear of the Southern Oregon fires that affected our community," the Association said in a statement. "They immediately sent their love and support to show they were with us in solidarity. Alba’s Sister City Committee went one step further and started a fundraiser to raise money for the Phoenix-Talent School District fire victims."
All told, the Sister City Committee raised 4,000 Euros, or roughly $4,870. The fund included a donation from the City of Alba.
The donation is earmarked for a scholarship fund established by the Phoenix-Talent Alumni Association that will offer scholarships for students who lost their homes in the Almeda Fire.
"The hope is that the scholarships will be available to graduating seniors this year and that the fund will persist so that even current kindergartners will be able to receive a scholarship when they graduate," the Association said.
Delegations from Medford and Alba were set to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the sister city relationship in 2020, but the pandemic derailed those events. In 2019, a group of students from North Medford, South Medford, and Phoenix High School visited Alba during a three-week cultural exchange trip.
"Even though Alba and Medford are sister cities, there are many connections between Alba and the Phoenix-Talent School District. For example, a pen pal program existed for several years between students at Orchard Hill Elementary School and the Umberto Sacco Elementary School in Alba," the Association said. "Additionally, several Medford-Alba cultural exchange students have lived in Medford, but attended Phoenix High School. Phoenix-Talent’s School Superintendent, Brent Barry, is a former President of the Medford Alba Sister City Association. When the Italians heard of the Almeda fire’s destruction in Phoenix and Talent, they took action."
Northern Italy saw some of the most devastating impacts from COVID-19 early in the pandemic. Alba lies in Italy's northwestern Piedmont region, roughly between Genoa and Turin.
"In spite of continued restrictions and the economic aftermath of the pandemic, the people and city of Alba pulled together to support fire recovery on the other side of the world," the Association wrote.