Stories of heroism and the generosity of the human spirit continue to pour in as survivors of the deadly California wildfires begin to go about to continue with their lives.
To one high school volleyball team, the love and generosity came from an unexpected source: their opponents. More than half the team at Paradise Adventist Academy in Northern California lost something they needed for their match against Forest Lake Christian School. From CNN:
“There were two or three (girls) that didn’t have anything, they lost everything in the fire,” Paradise volleyball coach Jason Eyer said. “And four or five more didn’t have their jersey or their shoes. More than half of the team lost something they needed for that night.”
It was important to the girls that they continue to play, Eyer said after surveying the team members and their families. Having lost so much, the wildfires couldn’t defeat their fighting, tenacious spirits. So they agreed to make the 80-mile trip to Auburn, California for the game.
“It was really good to have something normal in our lives to bring us together and bring our community together,” said Paradise player Quincey Carter.
When the people from Forest Lake learned that the brave Paradise teens were coming to play, Forest Lake Chrisitan Athletic Director LaRon Gordon got busy quickly to set up a meeting with school administrators to see what they as a community could do to help.
“We got out and called our friends, community, got on social media,” Gordon said. “And we set up three little bins outside the school (for donations). The whole front of the school was jam-packed full of donations,” he said. “You couldn’t even walk into the school from the front. You can’t imagine it.”
Here’s what they ultimately came up with.
- $16,000 donation for the Paradise community
- Jerseys, uniforms, knee pads, and socks for every player
- A room full of donated items for families
- A $300 gift card for each player and family
It was a beautiful moment when the Paradise team arrived at the gym to find 12 brand new uniforms. Gordon had found a company that was willing to work overnight to make the custom jerseys.
The crowd that came to watch these courageous young women play was the largest of the season and filled the gym. But wait…there’s more.
“At the end of the match they handed every girl on the team an envelope of $300 worth of gift cards for places for them to buy clothes,” Eyer said. “And they presented me with a box of gift cards and cash with over $10,000 for the families at the school.”
Coach Eyer was overwhelmed.
“It might seem like a little thing, but these people had nothing but their clothes on their back,” he said. “We have now been helped in so many ways. The girls and I have talked about how when we get that opportunity … it would be our turn to give back and try to pass (on) this generous spirit and sense of community.”
“One of the biggest things it taught me is that we’re there for each other in times of need,” he said. “It could have been me, it could have been our school. The community that came out gave me a sense of hope for humanity.”
Paradise ended up losing the match to Forest Lake Christian School, but this was one time when everyone involved was a winner in every way. The human spirit always prevails.