Outreach Efforts Help Community Recover

As the greater Conejo Valley strives to return to normal after the tragic Borderline Bar and Grill shooting and the devastating area wildfires, Oaks Christian School has established outreach efforts to assist not only OCS families impacted, but the surrounding community as well.

The Oaks Christian advancement department created a community fund to collect donations to aid the family of fallen Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus who lost his life protecting others at the Borderline shooting, AND the victims (including Oaks Christian families) of the recent fires.

In addition, 100 percent of all proceeds from the Nov. 16 CIF semifinal football game against St. John Bosco were donated to relief efforts. Both Oaks Christian School and St. John Bosco gave all their gate proceeds to aid the family of Sgt. Helus and families impacted by the fires.

"We appreciate and are thankful to the St. John Bosco family for partnering with us in this endeavor. This was not just a game. This was about our friends and neighbors who are hurting and in need of our love, encouragement and support," said OCS Head of School Rob Black.

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In addition to the financial contributions, OCS staff and students have helped in several tangible ways.

Approximately 15 OCS faculty and staff members helped to lead a sifting operation at Seminole Springs, including Robotics and Computer Science Teacher Greg Gillis-Smith who helped demonstrate how to use a sifter and Art Teachers Don Trimble, Andrew Christopher, Blanca Schnobrich, and Anna Wadman.

High School Dean of Students Marcus Choi, High School Spiritual Life Director Rich Gregory, and Gillis-Smith served a community near Kanan Road where over 100 mobile homes were lost. Many other faculty and staff worked to serve on this project but only a select few were able to get through the barricades.

In addition, countless students responded to the call to serve at Sports Academy, which opened their doors to the community to provide free camps for children who were impacted by the fires! Middle School Nurse Leslie Heimbuch and Dr. Robin Sakakini from the OC Learning Center were part of the team who showed up to assist.

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Right before Thanksgiving, the Cassar family opened their home to host a service opportunity event for all who could help bag sand in preparation for the rains and potential mudslides after the fires. Volunteers prepared boxes for recovery efforts for the countless families that lost their homes. A letter writing station was set up to write notes of encouragement for the families of those impacted by the shooting and the fires.

OCS alumnus Alex Bachman, '15, played his last football game with Wake Forest University for a cause. His custom-made cleats represented his support for his hometown, featuring flames for the fires on one side of the shoe, and the names of all the Borderline victims on the other side.

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A second alumnus, Marshall Via, '17, and his band Sir, Please, will open for REO Speedwagon at two benefit concerts at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on Jan. 12 and 13. All proceeds from the shows will be donated to the Ventura County Community Foundation for victims of the recent shooting and fires. Tickets can be purchased here.

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In the weeks and months ahead, Oaks Christian School will continue providing support and encouragement.

"We have been very intentional in our response efforts and want to ensure that there will be many opportunities to meet the needs in our community. This will be a long process of recovery and Oaks Christian plans to be a part of that community recovery for the long haul," shared Associate Head of School for Spiritual Life Dee Dee Mayer.