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Cali businessman to give $1,000 to each student, employee at fire-devastated high school

An American flag flies in front of a business that was destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 21, 2018 in Paradise, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A San Diego-area resident was so moved by media coverage of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, that he's donating more than $1 million to the students and employees of Paradise High School, according to the Enterprise-Record.

Bob Wilson, a development company executive and restaurant chain partner, has never been to Paradise before. But he knows how important high school was to him, and he wanted to do anything possible to make sure those kids got their own high school experience.

"When I read about what happened in the L.A. Times, it occurred to me how significant high school was to me," Wilson said. "It was the last carefree time in my life."

So, every student and employee at Paradise High School will receive a $1,000 check at an assembly Tuesday -- all 980 students and 105 employees.

"Someone asked me, 'Do you know how much money that is?'" Wilson told the Enterprise-Record. "Yeah, the math is easy."

'People unfortunately will forget about them'

Wilson wanted to have a significant and lasting impact on the lives of the Paradise High School families, knowing that when the media coverage of the devastation stops, people around the country will move on from the situation.

"You have to take your chances, we're getting them the money they need now," Wilson said. "I want them to have the feeling that someone cares about them. Because when all the newspapers and TV people leave, people unfortunately will forget about them."

Wilson decided against giving everyone gift cards or bank accounts, or giving the money through a foundation, because he didn't want there to be any obstacles to them accessing the money. He decided to trust the families to use the money for what's best for them.

"We've got to get them back into high school," Wilson said. "If $1,000 will help do that, then OK."

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