PARADISE, Calif. - On Saturday, Christmas came early for hundreds of child Camp Fire survivors, thanks to the generosity of people across the community.
The Veterans Memorial Hall in Paradise hosted this year's Christmas party for kids on the ridge, an event started four years ago by American Legion Post Commander Lawrence St. Germain.
"I saw a need for it. There are so many kids up here. I talked to the guys, and we all agreed, yeah, let's do it," said St. Germain.
Together, the American Legion, the Paradise Host Lions Club, and the Paradise Veterans Group raised over $8,000 to buy over a thousand gifts for local children this holiday season.
"There's no better feeling than being able to give and touch the lives of children," said Karen Crook, President of the Paradise Host Lion's Club.
Crook lost her parents a year before the Camp Fire. For her, Saturday's event is about showing other survivors they aren't alone.
"I'm fighting back tears. We get to breathe again. Live again. We are part of a family, a community now," said Crook.
The party was also a welcome opportunity for families in the area to reconnect with one another. Many had not gotten an opportunity to reunite with friends since the Camp Fire occurred.
"This new year is going to be a good one. Paradise is already coming back," said Camp Fire survivor Mallorie Scheytt.
If you wish to give a gift to a child in Paradise or on the ridge this holiday, just get in touch with the Paradise Lions Club or your local American Legion office.