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Auburn family makes urns for Camp Fire survivors and victims, free of charge

The Jackson family has made more than 200 urns for Camp Fire survivors and victims combined.

PARADISE, Calif. — Each urn is handcrafted with the memories in mind, designed in Auburn, and hand-delivered in Paradise and neighborhoods surrounding the town.

The urns are made by Kathy Jackson, her husband James, and son Taylor.

"My husband does the lids. I do the decorating and my son does them on the wheel," Jackson said.

It is truly a labor of love.

"As a potter, I felt it would be good for me to shift into how I could help people in this way. And seeing the families talk about losing loved ones and different members of the family, pets, relatives and the least I could do was give them a resting place," Taylor Jackson said.

It’s important that each one is different and each one tells their story, whosever they may be.

“We want to make sure everyone knows every single one of these urns. Nothing is duplicated," Jackson said.

That’s important because they have made hundreds of them.

“At one point we had 200 in our living room," she said.

Credit: Barbara Bingley

Her family is making all of these for Camp Fire survivors who lost everything, including urns that held loved ones who passed away before the fire, at no cost.

"People just need to feel like they matter and their loved ones matter," she said. 

She’s also making them for families who lost loved ones in the Camp Fire. Eighty-five people died in the devastating fire and many of their surviving families have asked for urns.

"One was Victoria Taft because she didn’t leave because she didn’t get notice to leave. Just the whole process of that was hard. Her daughter moved and it hopefully gave her some closure, and there’s just a whole bunch of them," Jackson said.

Credit: Barbara Bingley

Kathy realizes urns are a unique gift to give, but she knows it’s helping.

"This was a different level because we touched something people didn’t want to talk about," she said, talking about death.

Her family has been making hundreds of urns since the fire happened. Her son Taylor came up with a name for what they are doing.

"I coined this project 'Remember Me' because it was important to remember," he said.

It’s important for the families to have something tangible to look at, to hold onto, to admire.

"We are here to love and support each other and we found a group in real need of love," Taylor Jackson said.

One Saturday, nearly a month before the one year mark of the Camp Fire, the Jackson family drove from Auburn to Paradise to deliver the urns to families who have been patiently waiting.

"This is for my Nana. She passed away about 10 days after the fire," said Jessie Wyatt.

Credit: Jessie Wyatt

"We found the ashes with Samaritan's Purse, but we didn’t have anything to put her in," said Monica Lerossignol.

These are the stories Kathy knows all too well.

“I look at them and they are all different and special, and when we give them we are saying goodbye to it," she said.

Lerossignol thought she lost her mom’s ashes in the Camp Fire.

Credit: Monica Lerossignol

"Trying to find her ashes was very emotional. It’s kind of hard to find ashes in ashes," Lerossignol said.

This urn will give her and her family peace, knowing her mom can rest again.

"It’s emotional because her ashes are in a box in my closet, because you look at the box and it’s just really sad. So, this will be where we can see it and it will be a nice reminder," she said.

Stacey Matz also lost her mother's urn in the Camp Fire.

"It’s for my mom. She passed away four years ago and it was just sudden and it was too soon for her. After the fire, we knew her ashes were gone, and I lost my home, and my two sisters lost their home, and everything of her we no longer had. And we were able to get some ashes along with her house and knew we needed something to keep her in," Matz said.

Credit: Stacey Matz

Kathy listened to her story and created an urn specific and special for Matz' mom Suzanne.

"It’s very her. It’s beautiful. She would love it. She does love it, and today is her angel day, and today is the day she passed. It makes it even more meaningful that I’m here to pick it up," Matz said holding back tears. She blew a kiss.

One year later, these urns bring peace to families who need it most. Those who lost everything, who may have lost a mother, daughter, father, son, or friend. 

"We are here for anyone who needs us," the Jackson family said.

The ground is still scarred, but the Butte County community is determined to rise from the ashes. Read more on our website, abc10.com/campfire. Read more of ABC10's coverage of the Camp Fire here



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WATCH MORE: Escaping Paradise | California Wildfires: The New Normal