[Hpn] NORTH COUNTY, CA - School kids need help, too - North County Times - November 06, 2003

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Fri, 7 Nov 2003 02:25:50 -0500


School kids need help, too

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By: ERIN WALSH - North County Times - November 06, 2003

NORTH COUNTY, CA - When you're a child or teenager and fire tears
away all your possessions, there are some things you just can't
get back.

A lucky football jersey that hasn't been washed all season. An
almost-finished college application. A yearbook signed by 50
friends. Hundreds of other little things that seem to define life
as a teenager but won't ever show up on an insurance claim.

But local high schools are trying to help replace whatever they
can for the dozens of local kids who lost their homes in the
recent fires. Schools are asking the public to help pay for small
but meaningful items that make the high school years complete:
backpacks, replacement sports equipment, computer programs,
surfboards, musical instruments and other personal things.

At least 180 students in North County schools lost their homes,
most from Ramona, Valley Center and Poway. An additional 81 teens
at Scripps Ranch High, just southwest of Poway, lost their homes
in the massive fires, which ate up a chunk of San Diego County
larger than the city of Los Angeles.

Perishing in the flames, along with families' shelter and
livelihoods, were thousands of dollars' worth of textbooks,
athletic uniforms, school gear, art supplies, and personal
touches such as compact discs, movie posters, high school
trophies and pennants.

"These are not the first things you think of when fire hits, but
when you're a kid, your personal things are all you've got," said
Scripps Ranch Principal Bobbi Forcier, whose school has set up a
fund for students who lost their homes in the Cedar fire, which
destroyed parts of Poway and Scripps Ranch.

In Ramona, where the Cedar fire charred miles of homes, students
are collecting change in buckets for their 60-some classmates who
lost everything.

"I've had kids tell me they miss their surfboard or their
PlayStation," said Jack Rogers, director of a crisis intervention
program for the Ramona Unified district. "Those may seem small,
but when you've lost everything and you're trying to get back to
normal, these are important things."

Scripps Ranch and Ramona schools are collecting donations for
students who lost homes through their educational foundations,
which are fund-raising groups.

Valley Center High School, where at least 35 students lost their
homes, also is encouraging donations for its fire victims. But
the school is asking people to donate through other local
charities, including a local church and the North County
Times/KSWB Fire Relief campaign.

Valley Center has several students whose families were uninsured
or under-insured during the fires. Finding homes for displaced
families of little means is still the No. 1 priority in the
small, rural district, said Valley Center High Principal Lucy
Haines.

"Our biggest challenge is that many of our families still don't
have a place to stay," Haines said. "When your most needy get hit
the hardest, you really have to dig deep and focus on the big
stuff first."

Most of the schools said Thursday that their foundations, student
groups and parent-teacher associations would gladly accept
donations from the public for their now-homeless students and
teachers. Donors should note that their donations are to be put
toward students and teachers who lost their homes. Monetary
donations and gift cards for major retailers such as Wal-Mart,
Target or Westfield Shoppingtown make good donations, school
leaders said.

"With gift cards, kids can go and buy their own personal things
instead of taking them from other people, which can be
embarrassing," said Ramona district Superintendent Pete Schiff.
"If you had a half-finished school project or college
application, you can't go buy a new one with a $50 gift card to
Wal-Mart. But at least you can buy yourself some underwear."

At Scripps Ranch High, where a group of students and parents were
planning an auction tonight to raise money for a new football
field, $60,000 of auction prizes were being stored in a home that
burned down. Parents and officials there are accepting donations
to recoup that loss as well.

Want to help?

Several schools and education groups are collecting money and
gift cards for students and teachers who lost their homes in the
Cedar and Paradise fires.

The following school groups are accepting donations, which should
be marked specifically for students and teachers who lost their
homes in the fires. Neither schools nor community groups are in
need of clothing donations, they said.

Ramona

The Ramona High School Associated Student Body, c/o Adviser Sandy
Kurland, Ramona High School, 1401 Hanson Lane, Ramona, CA
92065-5015.

The Ramona Education Foundation, c/o Tammy Hebert, James Dukes
Elementary School, 24908 Abalar Way, Ramona, CA 92065-4649. For
more information, call (760) 788-5060.

Ninth District PTA, c/o district President Kate Deweerd, Barnett
Elementary School, 23925 Couna Way, Ramona, CA 92065-4198. For
more information, call (760) 788-5333.

Scripps Ranch

The Scripps Ranch High School Foundation, c/o Scripps Ranch High
School, 10410 Treena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92131-1126. For more
information, call (858) 621-9020.

Valley Center

Valley Center High School has asked donors to give to local
charities for fire victims, including:

St. Francis Episcopal Church Fire Relief Fund, PO Box 1220, Pauma
Valley, CA 92061.

North County Times Relief Campaign, NCT/KSWB-TV Fire Relief
Campaign, 207 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Escondido, CA 92025.

North County Reservations Relief Fund, Borrego Springs Bank,
Attn: Joanne McBride, 7777 Alvarado Road, Suite 114, La Mesa, CA
91941.

Contact staff writer Erin Walsh at (760) 739-6644 or
ewalsh@nctimes.com
North County source page: http://tinyurl.com/u1fr
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