CHICO, Calif. -- California officials and celebrity chef Guy Fieri worked together to give Camp Fire victims and first responders a warm Thanksgiving meal.
Many of those served included members of the California National Guard.
For our men and women in uniform, spending a holiday away from home is nothing new.
"It's probably the most rewarding thing a person can choose for their life, to choose a life of service," Gen. Major Matthew Beevers of the California National Guard said.
Beevers joined the leadership of the California National Guard to feed their soldiers working on the ground in Paradise. Like many families, the soldiers were giving thanks and sharing stories.
Lt. Alan Wong from San Francisco says he helped find a fellow soldier's home while in Paradise.
"I knew that I had to help," Wong said.
Wong's mentality is pretty much the attitude around Paradise. Traditionally, holiday stories are full of volunteers feeding first responders, but Thursday the roles were reversed.
"We got Cal Fire - I thought they were coming to enjoy Thanksgiving. No, they're in there serving. I said, 'You guys haven't done enough?'" celebrity chef Guy Fieri said.
"We just made such a great connection with community over the last two weeks," Capt. Steve Kaufmann of Ventura County Fire said.
Celebrity chefs and volunteers managed to get 15,000 meals prepared for Camp Fire evacuees.
"Always been four or five different families getting together," Chuck Campos said.
Thousands of people were a part of Campos' dinner over the course of the day at Chico State. Many were strangers and some weren't.
Either way, they all had things in common - tragedy and resilience.
Virginia Partain is a teacher at Paradise High. She and her colleagues talked about that over food and of course what they were thankful for.
"I'm alive," Partain said. "My students all made it out. They're all alive and I believe in hope."
Partain believes hope is just what Paradise needs to rebuild.
Guy Fieri helps Camp Fire evacuees, first responders celebrate Thanksgiving
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