The Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County made an origami paper crane display filled with well wishes and support for the first responders of the Camp Fire in California, where 85 people have been confirmed dead and nearly 14,000 homes and more than 4,800 business were destroyed.
The students made the crane project last week as part of a lesson about empathy. They were joined by the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office and club staff and board members.
Kathrene Frautschy, club director of development, said she did not want the news about the California fires to be only a passing story.
“Empathy is a gateway to compassion and can move you into some sort of action,” Frautschy said.
Part of the club’s mission is to develop good citizens and engage children in activities to teach them principles of leadership.
Frautschy said the paper crane project showed children the human side of the fires and how the California fire was different than the 416 Fire in Durango.
“Our kids know firsthand the nervousness that happens in the community with a fire,” Frautschy said. “Some of our kids were relocated by the 416 Fire for a short amount of time; they know the fragility of living in this area and what a fire can do.”
The crane project stems from the Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 paper cranes to fulfill wishes and the story of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki, who folded paper cranes for world peace in the 1950s while battling leukemia.
Boys & Girls Club member Celia Gallavan said she was making the origami cranes with love, joy and healing wishes for the men and women who fought the California Camp Fire.
Celia, 10, said she understood how the people in the Camp Fire felt because she experienced the 416 Fire earlier this year.
“I was really scared and so grateful for the firefighters who put the fire out,” she said.
Smith said the project taught the Boys & Girls Club members how to look past their own circumstances and help others.
The students folded cranes throughout the week, and younger students colored doves and hearts that were strung alongside the cranes. The assembled structure is being sent to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office in Ordville, California.