Collaborative efforts help Hemet Unified families displaced from Cranston fire
■ Hemet Unified School District / Contributed
Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) is beginning another school year welcoming nearly 22,000 students for 2018-2019. This is in the wake of the Cranston fire that affected families in Idyllwild, Anza, and Aguanga. During this chaotic time, community members throughout the area worked together to support their fellow neighbors in any way they could.
The weeks leading up to the new school year caused uncertainty for families in these areas due to the Cranston Fire. Many families in Idyllwild were forced to evacuate their homes as the fire grew and families in Anza and Aguanga suffered from power outages for 10 days.
Citizens began donating water, food and clothes; HUSD Transportation Department assisted in evacuations; schools began opening for residents so they could access showers; and citizens began Facebook campaigns looking for new ways in which they could continue to support those that were affected by the fire and power outages.
As the power came back on in these communities and the families returned home, they found another challenge they needed to address. With the lack of power, all food that was in refrigerators had spoiled and needed to be discarded. Families needed to restock their food supply, but had little money left over to take their children school clothes shopping for the first day of school.
After discovering this need, the HUSD Parent Resource Center began reaching out to local businesses and community groups to request clothing donations. Therapeutic Horsemanship Equestrian (T.H.E.) Center provided the clothing donations within 24 hours of the Parent Resource Center request. Staff began sorting through the clothes and quickly realized washing the clothes at our facilities was going to take too long and families wouldn’t have access to the donations before the first day of school.
Staff began reaching out to local laundromats to see if HUSD could use their facilities to wash the clothes. A local, family-owned laundry facility, Presco Laundry, washed, dried, and folded over 2,000 articles of clothing at no cost, to help our families in need. Fred Presco, the owner, said he was happy to have a chance to give back to the Hemet community which has been very welcoming to him and his family since moving here.
Thanks to the combined effort of T.H.E. Center, Presco Laundry, Hemet High School students, ASPIRE students and the Parent Resource Center, the clothes were delivered to Hamilton K-8 School on Wednesday, Aug 8. Everyone that supported families throughout this difficult time including the first responders, California Edison, Anza Co-Op, and Caltrans worked hard ensuring the power was back on and roads were clear by the time school started.