A SWEET REMINDER OF BRAVERY : COOKIES BRIGHTEN SPIRITS.
Students from Calabasas to Oak Park on Friday sweetened the spirits of firefighters who battled the wind-whipped fire that raged across the Santa Monica Mountains this week.
Hundreds of students and parents from more than a dozen schools on the fringe of the fire zone baked cookies, cakes and breads that were delivered with notes thanking the firefighters for their brave efforts.
Michael Stuart baked 20 pumpkin cookies with his mom.
``I just felt that the firemen helped so much 'cause all those peoples' houses were burning. I felt so bad for those people,'' said the fourth-grader from Red Oak Elementary School in the Oak Park Unified School District.
He also wrote a note: ``Thanks for risking your life for us. That's real nice of you.''
Vanessa Brown baked a batch of her favorite chocolate chip cookies and then stayed up late Thursday night to finish her homework.
``They deserve it for being so brave. I thought that the fire would just on keep getting bigger and bigger. They tried really hard,'' said the fifth-grader from White Oak Elementary School in the Las Virgenes Unified School District. ``They were taking a risk of getting burned by the fire, they are taking the risk of their life to save other people's life.''
The effort - dubbed ``The Cookie Brigade'' on 5,000 fliers sent Thursday to schools in the two districts - was organized by Scott and Randy Harris, who own an Agoura Hills marketing firm and have children in Oak Park schools.
The response was so great that there were too many goodies for firefighters remaining on the Malibu fire. What remained from the eight van loads delivered to the Malibu Civic Center was taken to the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital, where firefighters injured by flames have been taken for care.
``The response was overwhelming,'' said Judi Fields, an employee of the Harrises, who was busy organizing Friday's deliveries. ``We must have sent out a dozen cars, but we had to quickly turn that around to vans.''
Also donating to the effort was Just-Be Cookies & More, of Camarillo, which provided some 20 pounds of cookies.
Red Oak second-grader Nicole Granowitz, though, figured the firefighters might like her homemade chocolate cookies better.
``That's what I know how to make,'' she said. ``I wanted to do it because the firemen helped us and nobody got badly hurt.''
Brittany Shaner, a White Oak second-grader, needed help from mom to bake the brownies she provided. Brittany said she had to do something to thank the firefighters.
``There was more fire than people. That was a huge fire. They did really good,'' she said. ``I knew they would be there. They always come.''
Photo: (1--ran in SIMI, SAC and CONEJO editions--color i n CONEJO) Cookie Brigade members Samantha Harris, 7, left, and Alyssa Hamel, 7, bring in more baked goods as a thanks to firefighters.
(2--ran in SAC and CONEJO editions--color in CONEJO) Justin Harris, 12, left, and Josh Fields carry a carton filled with cookies at the Malibu Civic Center Fire Command Center.
Bob Halvorsen/Daily News