CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: Clovis family gives stockings full of gifts to Camp Fire victims, listens to their stories

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Clovis family is back home after a quick but meaningful trip to northern California to help those impacted by the Camp Fire.

"We saw everything - from just utter devastation - but we also met so many beautiful, just wonderful people of Paradise," said Chris Penning.

Over a week ago, Chris, his wife Amie, and their two sons Andrew and Thomas were stuffing stockings filled with gifts for those impacted by the Camp Fire.

They went up to join an organization called Flash Love, who coordinated Operation Hope, to give out those stockings.

"We weren't sure what to expect, but what we wanted, we wanted to be listeners. We wanted to hear people's stories and that was something that was resoundingly evident that when we were up there people just wanted to share their stories with us," Chris said.

They got a first-hand look at the devastation as they were driving around to find families to help.

They came across a woman and her adult son who were sifting through the rubble to see if anything was left.

"They were so welcoming and they were so blessed to just receive this little gift and then immediately wanted to share whatever they could with us," he said.

The son ended up finding a loose diamond and his mother, even though she lost everything, decided to give the Penning boys something that belonged to her.

"I'll tell you something amazing - a girl that lost everything gave us these melted pennies right here," said Thomas Penning.

Despite everything, the town still had a little spirit left to celebrate the holiday season.

They held a tree-lighting ceremony and opened up their ice rink that was untouched by the flames.

The Penning family was there watching as the resilient people of Paradise stepped onto the ice with smiles on their faces.

"It was rising out of the ashes and going forward and moving forward with hope and joy," he said.

After this trip they are now looking for more ways to help families impacted.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.