PARADISE, Calif. - Riley Wooten is 4 years old and before last month lived a quiet life with his grandmother and his dinosaur collection in the once sleepy town of Paradise.
“He had 100 plus dinosaurs. Little ones, big ones. Everything you could think of that had dinosaurs on it,’’ said Riley’s great aunt Tanya Renfro.
The wildfire that hit Paradise in early November changed that.
Riley and his family lost their home and most everything they own when the Camp Fire swept away 19,000 homes and businesses and killed 86 people.
In the five weeks since the fire broke out, human kindness has helped fire victims began to heal and start to rebuilt their lives. For Riley, that kindness came in the form of new dinosaurs from friends and family, as well as many strangers.
It all started when Renfro, posted a Facebook request for one new toy dinosaur along with a Halloween picture of the boy dressed as a triceratops.
She indicated in the post a location where dinosaurs could be dropped off, and within days boxes started showing up on a relative's porch. In addition to toys, there were dino-themed bedding, movies, books and more, Renfro said. Thanks to human kindness, Riley is back in the company of his beloved teradons and triceratops.
“It’s insane and it helped him so much,’’ his great aunt said. “He was having a rough time.”
Although Riley still thinks the packages came from the mail carrier, he wants to share his gifts with other children who lost their toys in the fire. He is donating some of the dinosaurs to young fire victims in the small town of Gridley, when he is now living with his grandmother.