Ripon residents Mike and Rose Parma pulled up to Mt. Mike’s Pizza on Friday evening with a pickup truck jammed with 209 jackets — 60 for men, 80 for women and 69 for children.
The couple, who are both critical care nurses, called on friends and neighbors to help collect jackets after a friend from Paradise called Rose and told of witnessing a long line of families where jackets were being handed out to those who had lived in 9,844 homes destroyed so far by the Camp Fire and barely had time to escape with their lives and the clothes on their back. The jackets ran out before everyone could be helped.
Many of the donated jackets are brand new.
“My husband went to work and called churches in the area near Paradise and the fairgrounds but no one would accept our jackets – then he saw the story on the front page of the Bulletin about the Mt. Mike’s effort and here we are tonight,” Rose added.
The Parmas weren’t the only ones moved to help fellow Californians who are literally sleeping out in the cold or in smoke filled evacuation centers with little to keep them warm as the fire continues to rage.
A steady stream of vehicles dropped off items at Mt. Mike’s ranging from new and gently used sleeping bags to blankets, jackets, cases of water, diapers, clothing, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, and more to be placed in large blue-background cardboard shipping containers with George Perry & Sons logo along with whimsical art work depicting pumpkins and a scarecrow in a field.
Jeff Liotard — who along with Charlie Halford — delivered four pallets of food from Second Harvest and 80 pizzas to Paradise on Thursday said Art Perry after seeing the story in the Bulletin asked him what they needed.
“I asked for a big truck and trailer,” Liotard recalled, “one with George Perry & Sons on the side so people in Paradise would know that people in Manteca wanted to help them.”
Not only is George Perry & Son providing as truck but a driver as well.
That will allow even more basics to be sent north to Butte County to help fire victims.
“It’s encouraged us to keep accepting items and to take more trips up there,” Liotard said.
Liotard will continue to accept donations for Camp Fire victims, today, Sunday, and Monday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in front of Mt. Mike’s restaurant on North Main Street at Louise Avenue in Manteca.
“They need everything,” said Liotard who was stunned by the complete destruction he saw in Paradise while part of a CHP convoy to the burned out area where thousands are sheltered in warehouses and other large buildings. Thousands more are in Chico and other nearby areas often camping out in the open with little to protect them from the cold.
One family arrived in the late afternoon with more than two dozen individual bags they created of feminine hygiene products and other sundries women typically need along with diapers. They read the Bulletin story online that morning and decided to purchase enough items to help make sure nearly 30 women had personal care items.
George Perry & Sons’ truck and tractor is able to haul as many as 52 large cardboard containers that would be typically filled with pumpkins with relief donations instead to the Paradise community without charge.
A small army of volunteers was sorting through donations and repacking them in the large containers using large plastic “bags” as part of a system designed to make distribution of items by relief workers to those that need them as quick and efficient as possible which reducing the chance for waste.
In a room that once served as Mike’s breakfast and juice bar, volunteers were busy sorting and packing donations.
That room five days from now under the direction of Jeff and his wife Tevani Liotard will be an assembly line for free community turkey meals that will be sent to sites in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon where groups are gathering that would either have Thanksgiving meals alone or forgo them or for delivery to shut-ins. The majority of the 2,300 meals expected to be served by volunteers working with the Manteca Rotary and Sunrise Kiwanis are expected to be served in the Mt. Mike’s dining area.
“It feels good to see everyone having a little part in helping others,” Rose Parma said.
Parma added that she wanted the jackets to be seen as a blessing and had prayer cards printed and laminated and put into every single pocket in every jacket.
“This is really a blessing to us (to be able to help),” she said.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.