More than one million acres have burned in the wildfires in Oregon leaving families displaced and without essential items. Community members there are lending a hand, even from a distance.
When the 2011 flood destroyed a large part of the city, a family from Oregon moved out here to help the Magic City rebuild. Now, this same community is returning the favor.
“So heartbreaking. It’s amazing. We knew we needed to do something and anything helps,” said Araya Ferrell, donation organizer.
Araya and Lyndsie Ferrell are talking about the fires that are devastating Oregon.
They’re originally from Santiam Canyon, a small town of only 900 people. They say it’s a lot like Minot: a place where everyone seems to know everyone.
“We obviously follow all those people. We keep in touch with those people and them reaching out to us over 2,000 miles away,” Araya said.
Just like the 2011 flood, they knew they needed to start somewhere.
“We moved here eight years ago, we came to rebuild after they went through the tragedy, the flood. We came, we saw how devastating it was and it’s almost as the tables have turned. It’s our hometown that’s destroyed,” Araya said.
“I got home and sat down at the kitchen table with a pen and paper. My husband said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Uh, I gotta do something.’ And he said, ‘Well, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘I have to do something back home. And first I need to find someone that’s going to pay for all the shipping to be shipped back to Oregon,'” Lyndsie said.
And it didn’t take long before she found people who were more than willing.
“It’s a no-brainer, absolutely want to help out as much as we can. When we were affected by the flood in 2011, people helped us out, so it’s only something that yeah, we want to return the favor,” said Marshall Knaup, manager the UPS Store.
“My son is putting together zip-lock bags of different toys for different ages. It was long overdue that he clean out things and he was going to donate them anyway, but he just kind of jumped on the bandwagon with this. It’s great for teaching empathy,” said Nichole Harris, teacher, Ramstad Middle School.
The Ferrels are asking for donations of all kinds: bedding, clothing, toys–anything these victims can use to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. They’ve received so many, they’re trying to find a vehicle big enough to transport the items out west.
“The messages keep coming and every single message just makes that big of a difference,” Araya said.
Donation drop off is Wednesday and Friday at HighAir Ground in Minot from 5-7 p.m.