Unspeakable Tragedy Brings Forth Unmeasurable Help

In times of immeasurable devastation, the Laguna Blanca community stepped up in various ways as volunteers to help their struggling fellow members of the community.

Carina Tedesco

Laguna Blanca’s core values of Character and Community proved to be more than just words in times of local devastation. From high school students to faculty members, the Owls took much of their own time and energy to volunteer in helping victims of the Thomas Fire and mudslides.

The night after the Thomas Fire reached Ventura, sophomore Natalie McCaffery sent a mass email to the entirety of the Upper School asking for help: she, and the rest of the Girl Scouts, needed numerous different household and self-care items to pack into bags and deliver to victims.

“We made around 100 care bags for the fire victims.The bags had toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, wipes, water bottles, power bars, soap, notebooks, pens and towels,” McCaffery said.

McCaffery’s Girl Scout troop got together as soon as possible after the re began to discuss how they could support the nu- merous victims who lost their homes.Working urgently, the Girl Scouts were able to collect over 1,200 items for their care bags. Most of the items in the bags were donated to the troop from local businesses and drug stores.

McCaffery emphasized the generosity of the businesses she and the Girl Scouts reached out to, when she described the process of compiling the bags as a community effort.

When asked why the Girl Scouts chose to make care bags with household necessities, McCaffery said,“We chose these basic items because they are most likely the things that one wouldn’t think of grabbing in a state of emergency.”

Two teachers who also decided to volunteer in a very hands-on environment were Katherine Pointer and Rose Steeber, although their volunteering was geared toward the firefighters rather than the evacuees.

On the Monday after the Thomas Fire began, Pointer and Steeber drove to a mobile volunteer kitchen in Ventura.The kitchen was set up to feed the firefighters and other first responders between their shifts.

The kitchen operated out of Holy Cross School behind the San Buenaventura Mission.While Pointer and Steeber volunteered, there were about 50 other volunteers, rotating shifts throughout the day.Volunteers chopped fruit, vegetables and meat and made sandwiches for lunches and dinners.

“Both of us felt very strongly that we wanted to do something to thank the firefighters and first responders for the work that they were doing. Especially since my house had been affected, it was really important for me to give back — it was a tangible way to say thank you to the firefighters,” Pointer said.

Laguna Blanca Director of Communications,Tara Broucqsault, lent her support to Laguna community members. After former Latin teacher, Stephanie Anderson, lost her home in the Thomas Fire, Broucqsault began to rally faculty and staff who knew Anderson, to donate funds, furniture, household supplies and clothing.

“In one day, thanks to our generous community of helpers, we collected $400, a dining table, dining room chairs, an easy chair, a desk with school supplies for Stephanie’s son, Zach,TV, pots and pans, clothing, blankets, decorative items, Christmas tree deco- rations, Christmas gift wrapping supplies, tools and more,” said Broucqsault.

Across the board, Laguna Blanca community members demon- strated their generosity and dedication by serving others in a time when our community needed it most.