Girl, 7, Who Lost Home in California Fire Holds Toy Drive for Kids in Need: 'I Know How It Feels'
Sophia Novotny, a second grade student, was devastated when her family's Agoura Hills home became one of 1,500 structures destroyed by the Woolsey Fire, which has been wreaking havoc on Los Angeles and Ventura counties for nearly two weeks. But the little girl was more focused on her friends, according to KABC.
"Very quickly she realized their things were gone," Sophia's mom, April Novotny, told KABC of her daughter. "The day that we lost the house, she said, ‘Let's get some toys for the other kids who have lost their house.' "
So, that's what the little girl did. On Sunday, Sophia held the "Sophia's Wishes" toy drive in Thousand Oaks, where people donated gifts. The toys were given to children who lost their own in the fire, KABC reported.
"I just want to help other kids 'cause I know how it feels to lost [sic] your things," Sophia told KABC. The drive was a success, with a local business, RadNet, helping to make Sophia's wish come true. Santa Claus even made a surprise appearance for the smiling children.
April opened up about her daughter's good deed on Facebook, thanking everyone for supporting Sophia.
"These children want to help, and want to feel in control of something in this whirlwind we call life," April wrote in the Facebook post, Monday. "She feels a little more in confident of her place in the world today."
Sophia's act of kindness comes as the Woolsey Fire - burning across more than 96,000 acres - was 96 percent contained on Monday. Three people have died as a result of the fire and hundreds have lost their homes in the blaze. Another fire that burned in the area, the Hill Fire, was completely contained on Friday.
The worst of the fires, the Camp Fire, continued to burn in northern California on Tuesday after devastating the city of Paradise. The fire, now the deadliest blaze in the state's history, has caused at least 79 deaths, and nearly 700 people remain missing, Butte County officials announced on Monday.
"We're finding remains in various states," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said, according to the Sacramento Bee. "I suspect there are some that will have been completely consumed."
Many gathered for a vigil at First Christian Church in Chico - the town where some Paradise residents have taken refuge since the blaze, according to CBS. They prayed, presented photos of lost friends and family, and sought help from counselors and mental health experts. A sign at the vigil read: "We will rise from the ashes #paradisestrong #buttecountystrong."