Colusa High School Spanish Club

The Colusa High School Spanish Club collected donations for Camp Fire victims last week.

With thousands of people who have lost everything due to the Camp Fire in Butte County, people have come together to collect donations and support those in need.

The Colusa High School Spanish Club collected donations last week and the advisor took those to donation centers close to some of the evacuation centers.

Melissa Michalk, Spanish Club advisor at Colusa High School, said she lives in Orland and she knows people who lived in the Paradise and Magalia area, so it hit close to home.

She got permission from the principal to collect donations for fire victims through the Spanish Club and students began donating on Nov. 12.

“My car was completely loaded to the max,” Michalk said.

Students were donating clothes, shoes and toiletries, she said. The cross country coaches even donated brand new pants and shirts.

She took most of the donations to the Toys R Us parking lot in Chico, but they would only take new clothes, but accepted the cross country shirts and pants along with shoes and toiletries.

After that, she went to the fairgrounds who directed her to a donation center that accepted the used clothes.

She said she sorted through to the clothes to make sure there were no holes or stains, but Michalk said everything the students donated was in great condition.

“It was in phenomenal shape,” she said. “The kids, they donated excellent items.”

When students approached her and asked what they should donated, Michalk said she told them to think about if they had lost everything and if all they had were the clothes on their back, what would they need.

“Just trying to make them think and put them in other people’s shoes,” she said.

Michalk said she wanted to give back and help those who have lost everything.

School is scheduled to be back in session for the Colusa Unified School District on Monday, but Michalk said she doesn’t know if they will continue collecting donations yet.

She said the donation center at the Toys R Us parking lot in Chico is thinking long-term, like five or six months. 

Michalk said she won’t be asking people to donate, but if they approach her individually, she would be happy to take donations to those in need since not everyone in the community has easy access to the shelters.

“It’s just really nice to see how much support the Paradise families are getting,” Michalk said. “It’s really heartwarming to know that people can come together in a disaster … I work with some awesome kids.”

If anyone is interested in donating, Michalk can be reached at

The fire began on Nov. 8 at around 6:30 a.m. at Pulga Road and Camp Creek Road, near Jarbo Gap, according to CalFire. By 2 p.m. that afternoon, it had reached 18,000 acres.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire had reached 151,373 acres and is 70 percent contained. Additionally, 12,947 residences, 483 commercial buildings and 3,718 other buildings have been destroyed and 14,500 are threatened.

The Camp Fire is deadliest wildfires in state history with 79 confirmed fatalities, three injuries and nearly 1,000 people unaccounted for.

There are 4,665 fire personnel working to contain the fire, according to CalFire.

School Closures

Colusa Unified School District and Williams Unified School District closed Friday due to poor air quality and classes are scheduled to be back in session on Monday, Nov. 26.

Woodland Community College closed campuses in Yolo, Lake and Colusa counties Monday through Wednesday (Thursday and Friday were scheduled as holidays) and classes are scheduled to resume Saturday at the main campus, according to a press release. Updates will be posted at

What to know about air quality

The Colusa Air Pollution Control District extended their air advisory for the fourth time due to smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County. 

During various times over the weekend, the air quality measured in the “very unhealthy” range, according to the advisory. Conditions may fluctuate from moderate to very unhealthy.

Smoke from the fires produce fine-particulate matter which can cause health risks like lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people can be more susceptible to health effects, according to the advisory.

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