The Sewa International team, working with a group of local volunteers headed by Heather Helwig, a long-time resident of Loomis, Calif., organized a Christmas luncheon for 200 fire evacuees of the devastating fires that ravaged Northern California in early November.
The fire that originated in Butte County, California, burnt most of the three cities of Paradise, Magalia and Concow to a cinder, killing 83 people.
The event was held Dec. 23 at the Blue Goose Event Center in Loomis, with over $7,500 in gifts, gift certificates and laptop donations distributed to the individual attendees at the event, the organization said in a Dec. 24 news release.
This brought some holiday cheer in the lives of the people who lost everything in the deadly fire, it said.
The attendees were offered a menu of traditional Christmas food, holiday pies, cookies and more. A variety of activities awaited the attendees of all age groups: face painting, fashioning balloon animals, and a raffles game.
There was a Christmas craft corner, and photos with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for the young and old alike. The attendees had an opportunity to participate in a raffles game and win several gift-hampers prepared by Sewa volunteers and the local volunteer team, Sewa said.
In the coming weeks, the Sewa International team will focus on rehabilitation work in collaboration with the victims.
“Sewa means selfless service, and we are here to serve in any way possible,” said Jyothsna Prasad, an Indian American Sewa volunteer and the chief organizer of the event. “The enormity of the fires and the tragic consequences are still fresh in our minds, and any cheer and support we can offer, we consider it a privilege and an honor,” she said.
“An opportunity to serve the victims of this destructive natural event was the best holiday gift we received from this successful event,” added Minal Joshi, a full-time Family Services Coordinator for Sewa International.
Contributing to Sewa International’s outreach effort were three other NGOs, Annapoorna of Sacramento, Bharati Tamil Sangam-California and the VHP of America, whose generosity helped Sewa International reach out to the distressed Loomis community, the organization said.