Veronans Aid California Fire Victims


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Paradise, Calif. before the devastating Camp Fire.

Dave Conlan graduated Verona High School with the class of 1998 and later went to graduate school at California State University, Chico. While there, he got to know Paradise, Calif., the epicenter of the devastating Camp Fire in northern California.

Conlan doesn’t live in California any more, but he knows how much it is hurting, and he is now asking the people of his native Verona to help the survivors. According to estimates, 52,000 people have been evacuated from the area, 71 are confirmed dead and 1,000 people are unaccounted for.

“Thousands are now homeless and lost everything,” Conlon wrote in a message to “Virtually the entire town of Paradise was obliterated by the fire. Imagine waking up one morning and hearing the entire Forest Avenue School neighborhood burned down … or even Cedar Grove (we would still help them I hope!)”

Conlan has talked to his friends in Chico who are helping on the front lines and learned that the area’s biggest need is jackets, specifically mid-weight jackets like fleece, windbreakers, rain jackets, and the like, in sizes from children to adults. “It is getting colder in that region now and jackets are in high demand,” Conlan wrote.

His father, Dave Conlan Sr., still lives in Verona and volunteers in his retirement for the Verona Rescue Squad. So the two worked up a plan. Anyone who has a mid-weight jacket to donate can put in in a bin by the garage at Dave Conlan Sr.’s house, which is located at 146 Franklin Street, halfway between Grove and Fairview avenues.

“If anyone has one spare jacket they can drop it off to be mailed to the front lines and be directly given to one of thousands that are homeless,” Conlan wrote. “It’s a small way for a great town in northern Jersey to help a great town in northern California.”

UPDATE: After we published this story, we learned that Rich Crist, VHS class of 1978, who works in Chico, Calif., lost his home in the Paradise fire. A GoFundMe has been started to help him deal with the emergency.

An interactive app on NBC News made it possible to see how large the Camp Fire is in relation to our area of New Jersey.
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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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