It’s not unusual for boys in elementary school to tell their family
and friends they want to be firefighters when they grow up. Mathew
Smith, 9, is no different, but he’s already taking action to be of
service to those affected by the Southern California wildfires.
After learning about the homes being destroyed by the fires this
week, Mathew decided that he wanted to do something to help.
“I was watching the fires on TV and I asked my mom where people
lost homes,” said Mathew, who said he wants to be a Burbank
firefighter when he grows up. “She told me and I got the idea to help
them out by giving them some donations.”
Mathew’s mother, Leslie, said she saw him making fliers on their
home computer that evening for a donation drive. Proud of their son’s
initiative, she and Mathew’s father, Ken, decided to contribute by
overseeing the project.
Smith said she and her son convinced students and teachers at most
Burbank elementary schools to donate money and other items through
Nov. 19. Every day, the mother-and-son team will drive to the
schools, pick up the items and give them to the Red Cross and the
"[School administrators] were thrilled to death because no one
thought about this,” Leslie Smith said. “It made me feel good because
they totally welcomed it.”
Officials at the Burbank Unified School District said no other
donation efforts were taking place at local elementary schools.
Paula Willebrands, Mathew’s principal at Stevenson Elementary
School, said she is proud of him for thinking of the well-being of
those who lost their possessions.
Plus, Willebrands said the drive is helping to calm her students.
“Children are concerned and scared about what is happening,” she
said. “This is a good way for children to feel like they have made a
difference in the community for people who are suffering.”
Mathew is no stranger to altruistic actions. After the Sept. 11,
2001, terrorist attacks, Smith said he raised and sent money to an
elementary school close to ground zero.