Student collects clothes for victims of Thomas Fire


Clothing collected by Kyle and Melissa Hearlihy line the floor of the Ventura High School Gym. Credit: Kyle Hearlihy ’19

Sophie Haber

To bring relief to victims of the Thomas Fire, which Cal Fire declared the  fifth largest wildfire in California history, Kyle Hearlihy ’19 and his mother Melissa Hearlihy, who is the girls basketball coach, collected enough clothes to fill a suburban and flatbed truck in Hamilton Gym on Sunday.

Melissa Hearlihy decided to collect clothes after she spoke to basketball coaches at Ventura High School, who said that four families in the basketball program at their school had lost their homes in the fire.

Kyle Hearlihy reached out to friends on Facebook and in group chats, asking them to go through their closets and donate clothing of all sizes.

“People wanted to help,” Kyle Hearlihy said. “They just had no outlet, and this was their outlet.”

He dropped off the clothes at Ventura High School after the drive Sunday.

“I felt helpless, but now that I could do this for those people it made me feel way better,” Kyle Hearlihy said.

The fire, which reached 230,000 acres Sunday evening, destroyed at least 710 structures and damaged 162, according to ABC News.

In order to donate, Esther Grover ’19 took a bus to the Upper School from West Hollywood and walked up Coldwater carrying two bags filled with clothes. 

Grover said she had been in house fires before, so she empathizes with the people who are affected now.

“I know how scary and devasting it is, so I wanted to help in any way that I could,” Grover said. “I was just glad that my family’s old clothes could help.”