MEDFORD, Ore. — When the Camp Fire raced through Paradise, California, many people lost everything. Those who evacuated as their homes burned were lucky not to have lost their lives — because others did perish. Rebuilding after that fire is a long, arduous, and ongoing process, but in some cases small acts of kindness have made all the difference.
"I was in band and our principal came in and asked us to go home and evacuate," said Stacy Wisener. "It all went crazy from there."
Rogue Valley Adventist Academy is collecting instruments for students in Paradise, California. More than half the students who attend Paradise Adventist Academy lost their home. This includes their favorite musical instruments, and choir/band clothing.https://t.co/usedaDTwhE— Leah Thompson (@LeahNW12) December 12, 2018
Wisener is a student and musician at Paradise Adventist Academy. While her instrument survived the fire, the same can't be said for the instruments of all of her bandmates.
Following the deadly fire, people from around the Rogue Valley donated instruments to those students who had lost everything in the Camp Fire and were unable to participate in the school band. Other communities from throughout Oregon, Washington and California pitched in as well.
"When they actually came to the school, we had kids who were waiting for the instruments," said Wisener. "And their faces lit up, it was really . . . it was nice."
Now, months later, student from Paradise Adventist are traveling and playing music for other schools — celebrating how they've begun to recover and repaying the acts of kindness that helped to facilitate it.
"It's like one billion hugs, I don't know how to explain it better than that . . . it's genuinely been so amazing," Wisener said.
Katie Hamilton, a choir student at Paradise Adventists, is also at a loss for how to explain what the gestures have meant to them. "There aren't words . . . thank you, thank you, thank you, we appreciate it so, so much!"
Today is the last day of their week-long band tour, but it's certainly not something they will soon forget.
"It's so nice, it's like a breath of fresh air," said Wisener.