Like everybody else in our area, we have been so saddened and worried about our friends to the North. Such massive devastation from a fire that is still only 15% contained after burning 270,000 acres and over 130 homes.
We have been glued to the news, and talking with friends from the area, and wondering what we can do to help.
Brianna and Alex took a load up to the Pateros High School today to check it out for themselves, and get solid information about what is needed. They took up a trailer with water, donated clothing, diapers, formula, bottles, playing cards, candy, baked goods, fruit and a few household items. They found a community that is sticking together and remaining incredibly positive despite the fact many of them have no homes, no comforts and no privacy.
The entire town is without running water and electricity, and will remain without for at least a month. There are two massive generators providing power to the high school so they have lights and some refrigeration, but it does not give them showers. They are using the gym as a “holding area” for donations and they are sleeping in classrooms. The holding area is a flurry of activity with volunteers sorting, folding and distributing. While Brianna was there, another truck was in front of her unloading water and two more generators, and an SUV behind her had a load of non-perishable food items.
Even with the wave of support from outlying communities, Brianna felt certain there was not nearly enough food or supplies for the huge number of residents seeking refuge at the school. Brianna spent some time speaking with one of the volunteers in charge. This is the most current list of needs:
- lots of wipees (think of dry camping…no showers…)
- lysol wipes, hand sanitizer (again, no way to wash up before and after meals)
- diapers, formula, baby food
- gently used clothing and bedding
- tents, camp stoves, cooking pans
- propane tanks and charcoal briquettes for BBQs (there are about a dozen at the school, used at lunch and dinner to feed the town and any firefighters in the area)
- nonperishable food items.
- garbage bags
- aspirin, tylenol and OTC allergy medications
- mops, brooms and cleaning supplies
- flashlights and batteries
- portable radios
- new underwear (men, women, children)
- new socks (men, women and children)
In addition, they said the only furniture they have need for at the moment is beds and mattresses. They don’t need furniture until they have homes.
The other thing that was obvious was they really wanted home baked snacks. Brianna had about 70 sandwich bags with rice krispy treats and they were VERY well received by the kids that were weary of boxed snacks and packaged cookies. The other thing taken out of her hand rather quickly was the big tub of watermelon.
So, with the above information, here is our plan: We will have a trailer parked at the shop to receive any donated items on the above list. We will take it up as soon as it’s full and will keep taking as many loads as we can – we are hoping for at least one per week until Pateros and Brewster are back on their feet.
In addition, we would like to have a “goody drive“. This would be baked cookies, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, etc. If you could make them fresh on Saturday, package them in individual baggies or tupperwear you don’t want back, we will take those up Sunday morning. We would also like to bring fresh produce from your garden – but don’t bring any of these perishable items until Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. Half of the load will go to Pateros, and half to the fireman command station in Omak. We think those common comforts from home are missed, and not possible for them under current conditions.
We will be at the shop until 5pm this Saturday the 26th, then back again Sunday morning at 8:45 and will stay there until 9:30 to accept any baked donations you can bring. We are really hoping for a substancial amount. There are over 400 displaced residents and over 1600 firemen.
So, put aside your quilting project for one day and whip out those Kitchenaid mixers….we want more than just basic needs for Pateros… we want smiles!