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Steamboat students help California family displaced by wildfire

Maci Earley, left, and Kali Waldman will be wrapping presents for donations this holiday season at Mary Jane’s jewelry store in downtown Steamboat Springs. The seventh-graders plan to donate half of what they make from the donations to a family they have adopted who lost their home in Paradise, California, wildfire. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When flames destroyed homes in Paradise, California, last month, April Resendiz’s family lost everything heading into the holidays.

The loss inspired Steamboat Springs seventh-graders Maci Earley and Kali Waldman to spread a little holiday spirit by helping the family, who Mary Smithson, Maci’s aunt, knew.

“At first, we were going to wrap presents and use the money to get Christmas presents for our own family,” Kali said. “But then, we said we should give half to a charity.”

Smithson, who owns Mary Jane’s jewelry store in Steamboat, had a friend who worked at the hospital in Paradise, and the girls reached out hoping to purchase equipment for the hospital, which was destroyed in the fire.

The hospital was already receiving help, so Smithson’s friend suggested the girls adopt the Resendiz family, who had been severely impacted by the fire.

The family includes April and her husband, Marco, and three daughters, Ally, 12; Valerie, 10; and Raquel, 8. Kali and Maci said the fact that two of the girls were close to their age and shared their love of dancing created an instant connection.

“I hope they can get everything that they need and that they want,” Maci said. “They have had a really tough time. I hope the girls can get back into dance with their dance stuff, and I hope that they can get back into their home.”

The Steamboat girls will be wrapping presents for customers at Mary Jane’s, 703 Lincoln Ave. Half of the donations they receive will be given to the Resendiz family. Smithson is donating paper and other supplies needed to wrap presents.

They also hope to increase donations by offering hot chocolate and treats made by Maci’s little sister Mia and Kellyn Stanhope, an employee at Mary Jane’s.

Maci and Kali are hoping to replace some of the dancing gear through the donations and possibly buy the girls some jewelry to brighten up the holidays.

The girls started wrapping the day after Thanksgiving and will be at the store from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1, Dec. 8, Dec. 15, Dec. 22, Dec. 23 and Dec. 24.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.


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