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Local Girl Scouts Pitch in with Relief Efforts

Images of the widespread devastation caused by the Valley Fire burning in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties and the Butte Fire burning in Amador and Calaveras counties made a strong impression on Jayden Yokom.

The nine-year-old, a fourth-grader at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, cried as she watched television news reports on the fires out of concern for the firefighters — including her 22-year-old brother Ryan, who was assigned to the Valley Fire with his Cal Fire unit — and for the fire victims who had lost homes or other possessions.

“I was disappointed and sad and I thought, ‘These people must have been through something big,’” Jayden said.

So Jayden turned to her mother Jamie and asked, “Who can I talk to to see what we can do?”

“I just kept blabbering on and on to Jayden about how I could help because I have a bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit me anymore.”— Baylie Flecksteiner, 9

Jayden, a member of Girl Scout Troop #192, started phoning the troop’s 12 other members, and the girls quickly organized a plan to collect donations for the fire victims. The troop is soliciting bigger items, such as sleeping bags and tents, necessities, such as canned food, baby formula and school supplies, and extras, such as gift cards to department stores and restaurants.

Smaller items can be dropped off at the school offices at Pleasant Valley and Williams Ranch elementary schools, Ready Springs School or Vantage Point Charter School during regular school hours; anyone interested in making a large-item donation can call Jamie Yokom at 530-432-6488 to arrange to have the item picked up.

Though Jayden spearheaded the idea, her fellow girl scouts were equally as enthusiastic about collecting supplies.

“I just kept blabbering on and on to Jayden about how I could help because I have a bunch of stuff that doesn’t fit me anymore,” said Baylie Flecksteiner, 9.

Troop member Sam Eck, 9, also wanted to help the fire victims after considering what it would be like to lose possessions.

“It would be good to donate all this stuff for them so at least they can have some type of a home,” Eck said.

The girls obtained permission to collect items at the four schools from Tina Skrukrud, president of the Penn Valley Union Elementary School District’s board of trustees. After that, they focused on spreading the word; they asked teachers at the school to let their classes know, contacted local media outlets and informed fellow students of the donation drive at a recent assembly.

Jamie Yokom, the troop’s leader, said she’s been impressed with the girls’ initiative.

“They bond together so well,” Jamie Yokom said. “They have a sisterhood, and they can move mountains together.”

The troop will continue their collection as long as local residents have items to donate. They have a list of area sites that are accepting supplies for fire victims, and plan to drop off the items they collect there.

Many of the girls said they hoped others felt compelled to help out, even if they hadn’t been affected by the fires.

“You have to imagine what this has been like,” Jayden Yokom said. “This is real life. It’s not a movie.”

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email elavin@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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