As wildfires burned through the Northern California town of Redding, our AT&T West Region retail sales team couldn't just stand by and watch.

The team was among the first on site to help coordinate and lead the community response in the Redding area. Assistant Chanin Mendoza-Smart and retail consultant team member Princeton Thomas took the lead in getting the team organized as they jumped in.

Our retail teams mobilized support and provided emergency response items to 4 shelters in the area. They brought charging stations, water, Wi-Fi, demo phones and so much more, also making use of our new mobile retail format to serve as a hub for wireless charging, answering customer questions and being there for the community. In addition, AT&T donated $25,000 to the Red Cross to help with the ongoing relief efforts.

Our network team continued to monitor the situation. Our staged back-up generators helped to protect our infrastructure. Other AT&T employees were on site in Redding with a mobile retail truck providing support in this hard-hit community.

"I'm extremely proud of our AT&T family for coming together so quickly to help those in need," said Justen Gerig, director of sales. "I'm glad that we are able be on the ground to help support the communities we serve.

"This is what it's all about. To make a difference to just 1 person in these times of natural disasters makes it all worth it."

Devastation and heartbreak

For Chanin, it was a sobering moment, but also a chance to reach out and lend a hand.

"How do you start to explain or accept this much devastation and heartbreak?" Chanin said. "You give back because you can, and you have faith in the human kindness of others."


Chanin and some AT&T colleagues were volunteering at a shelter for victims of the Redding fire when Gary Baldwin walked in.

Gary had no clothes or belongings with him, and none of the donated items were his size. So Chanin and Princeton knew they had to help. They ran to Walmart and bought new shoes, shirts, shorts, socks and underwear for Gary, spending over $100 out of their own pockets.

Later, they learned that Gary's elderly neighbor and her 2 great-grandchildren died in the blaze as the fire swept across their home. Gary said the woman was like a second mother to him.

"No one should ever have to go through something like this," he said. "I can't thank Chanin and Princeton enough for their kindness. They definitely went above and beyond. Chanin was a breath of fresh air."

RELATED: AT&T offered credits for unlimited data, calls and texts to help customers affected by California wildfires. To learn more about AT&T's ongoing disaster relief efforts, visit the Disaster Relief news website.