People who have been happy to donate new or gently used children’s books to Camp Fire victims can be pleased that many have been placed into the hands of children who lost so much.
The Colusa County Farm Bureau’s Camp Fire Relief Book Drive was to help those burnt out of their homes, businesses, and schools have received so much attention that Farms Bureaus from other counties and states, non-profit organizations from all over the United States, and Colusa County residents have gotten behind the program.
“I’ve received books from Hawaii, Canada, the Bahamas – all over,” said Melodie Johnson, Colusa County Farm Bureau manager. “I had a children’s author send copies of all of his books, and for his birthday, he had all his friends who were authors ask their publishers for books. We got cases of new books. It’s crazy.”
Books for adults have also reached good hands, Johnson said, but nothing has touched people’s hearts as much as the Farm Bureau’s efforts to replenish school libraries.
Johnson started the book drive a couple of days after the Nov. 8, 2018 wildfire swept through the Butte County community of Paradise to become the biggest and deadliest fire in California history. By the beginning of 2019, the Colusa County Farm Bureau had delivered three loads of books to the area, and to children not yet back home.
Earlier this month, Johnson and CCFB outreach coordinator Monica Sankey restocked a classroom library for Children’s Community Charter School, which has been operating out of the Grace Community Church, in Chico, since the fire destroyed their Paradise school.
Johnson said the Farm Bureau handed out about 135 books to kids and restocked all the classroom libraries. Among the recipients were students in Colusa native Brittany Bentz’s first grade class, where 21 out of her 22 students lost their homes in the fire that destroyed most of the town.
Since the book drive started, Farm Bureaus from Glenn, Sutter, Butte, Yuba, and Sonoma have come on board to help.
“We started the book drive for the kids who lost everything from the Camp Fire and we got such a response; it’s overwhelming,” said Colusa County Farm Bureau President Chris Torres. “It’s been a huge undertaking. Melodie and Monica have done a fantastic job for us, and it has given Colusa County a lot of recognition.” ■