This story is written by Red Cross worker Patricia Billinger.
During a multi-day disaster, sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that can mean the most. This morning, the Red Cross handed out about 300 small plastic bags containing bandanas, eye drops, hand wipes and Chapstick to the firefighters who have been battling the Lower North Fork Fire.
The firefighter comfort kits were donated by national Red Cross partner Grainger and assembled during a volunteer day by local Grainger workers. The contents of each bag couldn’t have totaled more than $5 but to the firefighters they were like gold – many of the firefighters thanked the Red Cross enthusiastically for the lip balm or the eye drops. The need was evidenced on many of their faces in the form of lips cracked by exposure to heat and sun and eyes reddened by long shifts exposed to smoke, wind and dust.
If the comfort kits were like gold, the coffee donated by a local Starbucks was liquid gold. Starbucks store #13938 in Aspen Park, Colorado, has donated 215 gallons of coffee – and counting! – since the wildfire broke out on March 26, providing much-needed fuel for first responders, Red Cross workers and evacuees visiting or staying at the Red Cross shelter.
By the numbers:
900 homes evacuated
300 Firefighter Comfort Kits
300 boxes instant coffee
200 bags tea
43 five-gallon cambros of coffee
4 days of hard work