Man gives $1,000 to each student, teacher of school in California town ravaged by wildfire

Posted at 11:01 AM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 13:01:22-05

A California businessman is opening his heart and wallet to high school students and teachers after the Camp Fire disaster in the town of Paradise.

Real estate developer Bob Wilson, 90, gave students and staff at Paradise High School $1,000 each in a donation that totaled more than $1 million.

Smiles have been hard to come by for students ever since suffering through the most devastating wildfire in California history. About 900 of the 980 young people attending Paradise High School lost their homes, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas. Wilson, who lives near San Diego, heard about the hardships these students were enduring, and he felt compelled to help.

“For me, high school… was an idyllic time of my life, you might say. And I thought about these kids, and I thought about my experience. And I said, you know, if I could just put a smile on their face,” Wilson said. “And so I decided on the spot I would do this.”

Wilson felt the best way he could have a personal, positive impact was through individual donations. He’s giving $1,000 check to all 980 students and their 105 teachers and staff members.

“The more I thought about it, I thought, what about the whole school? What about the teachers, what about the bus drivers, the janitors, and so forth. And so I said, I’ll include the entire school,” Wilson said.

“This means so much. Means so much to everyone,” student Lily Higby told Wilson.

“You’re very, very welcome,” Wilson said.

“A lot of kids will just turn the checks over to their families, for just basic essential items like food and gas,” Paradise High School principal Loren Lighthall said.

Wilson said handing out more than a million dollars is making him feel like a million bucks.

“Let’s face it, there’s joy in giving. And especially when you do it directly,” Wilson said.

“He doesn’t even know us. But he has it in his heart to give this money to us. To just help us. And it kind of makes my heart smile,” student Samantha Pipkin said.