NEAR GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Fire camps have been overwhelmed with donations for firefighters.
“Socks, underwear, toiletries, cookies, brownies, bags of chips, you name it and it was being dropped off,” Lt. Mike Shaw from Rural-Metro Fire Department said.
And the list goes on, toilet paper, cereal and even magazines.
“Even though the initial words were we don’t need this stuff, it kept coming in which shows the support this community has,” Lt. Shaw added.
While the support is appreciated, with so many donations, it can actually impact the fire fight negatively.
“They don’t really have the staffing or personnel to do that,” Lt Shaw said. “They would have to hire someone at the fire camp just to handle all the donations and the logistics.”
In an effort to keep donors from creating traffic at the Brimstone camp, Rural-Metro set up a collection site stacking granola bars and bottles of water next to fire maps. Then, going beyond the call just to find a destination for the stacks of donations.
“We were out triaging homes so we would take a lot of that stuff to road block crews,” Lt. Shaw explained. “Some of those guys get kind of forgotten.”
Now that the Brimstone Fire is under control, it will continue collecting a limited amount of items for the Big Windy Complex. Everything left over will go to Josephine County Food Bank. While not for the fire fight, for a year-round fight local families face — hunger.
“Kids are out of school for the summer,” Sam Engel with the Josephine County Food Bank said. “Often parents struggle to provide meals that are given during the school year. Snacks like granola bars, Gatorade, are hugely important.”
While the boxes of goods are appreciated, crews say monetary donations to the Red Cross or Wildland Firefighter Foundation go further.
“It’s an organization that helps all wildland firefighters nationwide and that’s a great source and it’s a great way to support because that, in time of need for firefighters and there’s family, it’s a great way to show support,” Fire Information Officer Mike Wilson expressed.
Rural-Metro is collecting donations for the Big Windy Complex. It will take fruit, factory packaged food, socks, t-shirts and toiletries. None of the other fire camps are accepting food or toiletry donations.