A San Diego businessman has donated more than $1 million to help those who attend or work at Paradise High School in Paradise, Calif., recover from the wildfire that destroyed their town.
KPIX-TV reports that real estate developer and restaurant owner Bob Wilson, 90, arrived Tuesday in the city of Chico, Calif., with two suitcases stuffed with checks totaling $1.1 million for Paradise High School’s 980 students and 105 teachers and staff members. He gave $1,000 to each student and staff member.
Wilson says he decided to donate the money after reading that although the high school building was still standing, students, many of whom lost their homes in the fire, were scattered and separated from one another.
Wilson says his memories of high school in the 1940s inspired him to act.
“High school had a great impact on my life,” he says. “In fact, I would say it was the first, last and only truly carefree time.”
He wanted to make the kids smile and “give a little freedom to do whatever they wanted to do and maybe take their minds off what happened for a short period.”
School Principal Loren Lighthall estimates that 900 students were left homeless by the fire, which killed at least 88 people.
“Bob’s donation puts money in each kid’s pocket right now for food, gas, clothes, for essential things,” Lighthall says.