This past summer was another disastrous time for communities in Northern California who were faced with countless fires throughout June, July and August. Over 1,500 structures burned, and thousands were displaced from their homes and neighborhoods. The Carr Fire affecting Shasta County was one of the worst, but much like we saw during the disastrous Santa Rosa fires in 2017, the community was quick to come together to help those in need.
One community member who stepped up to the plate was 18-year-old Sean Boren. Sean and his family were forced to flee during the fires but were ultimately one of the lucky ones who did not lose their home. Sean noticed that his fellow neighbors had begun offering shelter and furniture to those displaced, but that no service was set up to help move furniture and other items for these families in need.
That’s when Sean created Trucks and Teens Assist Shasta County, a free-to-rent orange-shirted army of teens offering to help displaced families settle into temporary housing. Sean’s mom helped him spread the word on social media like Nextdoor and Facebook, and that’s when things began to take off.
Sean quickly began receiving requests for help, and attracted the attention of other teens who were looking for ways to help. The Trucks and Teen team formed and through a GoFundMe, raised more than $2,500 to rent U-Haul trucks and cover gas expenses.
Throughout August, Sean and his team helped over a dozen families, working mainly on weekends to accommodate schedules. The team has over two dozen volunteers now, a mix of both teens and adults.
Trucks and Teens has changed the lives of its volunteers, but it has changed the lives of the families they’ve helped in unexpected ways. Chuck and Sue MacDonald were one of the couples that lost everything in the fire, from the home that Chuck built 28 years ago to the countless metals the couple had earned from various marathons and national championships.
Chuck and Sue received help from Sean and his fellow volunteers when moving into their temporary rental. The experience changed the couple, so much so that in an interview with Redding Record Searchlight, Chuck said the experience had restored his faith in humanity.
“Just really grateful. It’s pretty humbling,” Chuck said. “I built my own house. I fix everything. I’m the original do-it-yourself … fix-some-broken-thing for my neighbor on their house, so for me it was hard to learn to accept help. But you’re at the point where you can’t do everything by yourself. For me, it was a learning experience to let people help me.”
For Sean, he’s simply honored to have a role in turning a negative into a positive for so many people. He shared with Redding Record Searchlight, “Wow, this was just an idea in my head, and now it’s happening with all these people here … how quickly it actually grew,” Sean said.
Story originally covered by Redding Record Searchlight. All photos and quotes are credited to Redding Record Searchlight.