The Sandalwood Fire and those affected by it were on the minds of Calimesa City Councilmembers and those in attendance Monday night at the first meeting since the devastating incident.
To start things off at the Nov. 4 council meeting, Southern California Gas presented a check for $10,000 to Sanctuary Church, which has been collecting monetary donations for victims of the fire, which tore through parts of Calimesa on Oct. 10, destroying 76 homes and leaving two women dead.
“In the spirit of the partnership that we have enjoyed with the city of Calimesa, as well as the fire department, we wanted to present this check for $10,000 on behalf of Southern California Gas to Sanctuary Church for the residents who were victims of that incident,” said Adam Eventov, public affairs manager.
How to reach out to fire victims, specifically children, came up again during the Calimesa Fire Department’s announcement about its annual Christmas Toy Drive, which is in partnership with the Calimesa Chamber of Commerce and Green Valley Christian Church in Yucaipa.
“We did this last year and it was a huge success,” said Shawn Lund, chaplain for the fire department. “We had toys collected at the fire station and I am really excited to have the council join forces this year. We are looking to make it larger.”
Monday was the official kickoff of the toy drive, with donation boxes set up at several different locations around Calimesa. The six locations are the fire department, city hall and the senior center, all on Park Avenue; the Calimesa Chamber of Commerce office, located in the Crown Village shopping center; Tri-Focus Wealth Management Group Inc., across from the Stater Bros. on Myrtlewood Drive; and the Dollar General, on Calimesa Boulevard.
Unwrapped toys can be dropped off through Dec. 12.
Lund explained there will be a couple of ways the toys are distributed.
The first will be the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in front of the Calimesa Senior Center at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18.
Councilman Jeff Cervantez asked if those organizing the toy drive had reached out to fire victims.
“I am sure there are some families where the children lost everything and this would be an especially well-received and heartfelt thing for those children,” he said.
Lund was enthusiastic about the idea.
“The toy drive would be an amazing opportunity for the Sandalwood victims,” he said, adding he would get the word out about it.
Councilman Larry Smith wanted to participate in the toy drive.
“How can we as councilmembers get involved in the distribution?” Smith asked. “I would love the opportunity to put some of these toys in kids’ hands.”
As the distribution dates become confirmed, Lund said he would let the council know and encouraged them to participate.
To donate money to those affected by the Sandalwood Fire, visit https://sanctuarychurch.churchcenter.com/giving/to/sandlewood-incident-fund.