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Giving thanks this week

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We're especially reminded how precious and fragile life is this Thanksgiving season.

All we have to do is look at our smoky Placer County skies and think about the thousands tragically affected by the Camp Fire two counties away.

Now designated California’s most deadly fire in the state’s history, the Camp Fire started unexpectedly for the 26,218-plus Paradise residents. The residents never imagined that what should have been an ordinary day on Nov. 8 would quickly become their most terrifying nightmare.

Without any warning, Paradise residents had to escape within minutes from their homes, offices and schools. Trying to find safety elsewhere, they drove along the exit route with vicious flames melting their vehicles’ metal frames.

For many, they would not make it to safety.

Life changed in mere seconds.

At least 79 residents lost their lives; almost 1,000 residents were missing, many presumably killed by the unprecedented catastrophe; and three firefighters were injured, as of Tuesday. Hundreds of animals died. As of Tuesday, 12,637 residences, 483 commercial and 3,718 other buildings were destroyed; 151,373 acres were annihilated; and containment was only at 70 percent.

Today, it's still shocking and heartbreaking to hear that Northern Californians, just two weeks before Thanksgiving kicked off the holiday season, were unexpectedly fighting for their lives. Tragically, many didn't make it out of the deadly fire’s path.

Out of this sadness, though, is an outpouring of caring from Placer County residents, who immediately donated money, clothes, food, toiletries and other necessities to the evacuated fire victims.

Placer County residents of all ages, from elementary school children to senior citizens, hosted drives and urged their friends to collect essential items and money for the victims. Many residents are sending cash donations and gift cards to organizations such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, North Valley Community Foundation and North Valley Animal Disaster Group, for starters.

It's heartwarming to see our residents reach out to the Butte County residents, who have lost everything: their homes, their animals, their jobs, some of their friends and their daily routines.

Two weeks after the Camp Fire changed thousands of lives forever, Placer County residents are still helping the victims with donations. The Camp Fire victims will need our assistance for many more weeks. Anything we can spare will be much appreciated by the victims as they rebuild their lives.

And then there are the extraordinary efforts of residents and business owners such as Scott Paris of High-Hand Nursery & Cafe. Paris has driven several times to Chico with clothes, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, milk and more than $10,000-worth of gift cards and cash donated by customers and High-Hand. Paris also delivered a semi-truck load of hay for animals who were in the fire zone (valued at about $4,500) and plans to bring another truckload of hay after Thanksgiving.

“The outpouring has been amazing,” said Nicole May in the High-Hand accounting office. “High-Hand has amazing customers.”

Gift cards and cash donations that Paris will deliver to the victims can be brought  to High-Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Road in Loomis between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

We give thanks to our selfless residents looking out for our Butte County neighbors.  This holiday week is the perfect time to acknowledge that Placer County residents make this area a wonderful place to call home.

Thank you for all you do and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!