A few weeks ago, the most destructive wildfire in the history of California engulfed the Northern California town of Paradise. The devastating wildfire burned 13,000 acres, destroying 6,713 structures and leaving majority of their population homeless. Unfortunately, the wildfire that made its mark in history did not only take material wealth but claimed lives as well.
But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The devastating wildfire sure is a horrible incident, but it sure did bring the best out of everyone. In this troubling time, a number of people did not think twice to lend a hand and offer help the best way they could.
Among these generous and compassionate people is the Southern California business man named Bob Wilson. Despite having no connection to Paradise, California, the 90-year-old business magnate felt a strong desire to make the students and teachers of Paradise High School a bit happier.
The business mogul helped the victims of the devastating Wildfire the best way he knows how. Bob Wilson made a generous donation of $1.1 million to the Paradise High School. What makes the old man’s generous gesture even more amazing is the way he handed-out his donations.
Rather than simply giving out money to an organization, Bob Wilson himself loaded two suitcases filled with $1,000 checks and personally handed it out to each of the 1,085 students, faculty, and staff of Paradise High School, California.
When asked about the reason behind his touching generosity, the 90-year-old businessman responded with a sentimental and inspiring answer.
“The Los Angeles Times ran an article last week on the high school and how these kids were, you know, upended you might say, and they didn’t know where they were going to go, when they were going to get back to high school, or what’s going to happen,” Bob Wilson explained.
The generous businessman doesn’t have the heart to let these students continue feeling down. Apparently, Bob Wilson considers his high school days as one of the best days of his life. Learning about the ordeal of the students of Paradise High School pulled strings to his heart.
“They still don’t know… And I thought, ‘Gosh darn, these kids — I had such a great time, such great memories of high school — if I could help those kids out I wanted to do that.” Bob Wilson added. “It was probably the first, last and only carefree time of my life… I could go home no matter how late, my mother always had dinner for me and I always had a bed to sleep in.”
With this in mind, Bob Wilson called the principal of Paradise High School and shared his plan. The 90-year-old man wanted to give each student and faculty of the school a $1,000 check with no underlying conditions. This means that they are free to spend the donation in any way they want.
“[I wanted to] give a little freedom to do whatever they wanted to do and maybe take their minds off what happened for a short period,” Bob Wilson further explained.
“What he’s done is awesome. This puts money into people’s hands right now, and it pumps more than a million dollars into the economy,” The Principal of Paradise High School, Loren Lighthall, shared his thoughts about Bob Wilson’s overwhelming generosity. “Over 90 percent of the homes in Paradise burned down, so our kids are super excited to get these checks. Really, it’s all they’re talking about.”
The beneficiaries of Bob Wilson’s donation lined up at Paradise High School to collect their checks. Though the businessman made it clear that the students can spend it in any way they want, most of them said that they will give it to their parents who are also in need.
“He doesn’t even know us … it makes my heart smile,” Samantha Pipkin, a student of Paradise High School expressed her gratitude and happiness over Bob Wilson’s thoughtful gesture.
More than the students, if there is someone who is truly happy it is no other than Bob Wilson.
“When I do something like this, let me tell you, there is absolute joy in giving,” Bob Wilson said in an interview. “It’s a happy occasion. I couldn’t be happier about doing something and doing it directly and not through some agency.”
Watch the inspiring video below and learn more about Bob Wilson, the businessman whose generosity and compassion uplifted the spirits of the students and employees of Paradise High School, California!
Photos and Video | KPIX CBS SF Bay Area