A Trip to Chico

I came back from Chico last night and if you don’t mind I want to be honest. I’m sad. I’m frustrated and I’m getting more pissed. I see needs everywhere I turn, but we can only do what we can do. I can only help those who want to help themselves.

I’m a bit frustrated with the process. I understand that it takes a lot of different resources when you’re faced with 30,000 evacuees on your doorstep. But I guess I thought that typical bureaucracy and the amount of bullshit you’ve got to go through to get help could be eased up. I guess I don’t see it as hard. For me, I’ve just kept a very open mind, asked simple questions to find out how a few dollars can get a person moving forward in their journey to a new life.

I’m not trying to pick a fight and maybe I got it wrong, but I just don’t understand a few things. I understand that you have to consolidate the shelters to consolidate services. It makes sense. But consolidating a shelter far away from the services that people need to have access to doesn’t make sense. Opening up a shelter and having two people show up, only to have to shut it down doesn’t make sense. Isn’t it somebody’s job to assess where resources need to be applied with spearpoint precision?

I’ve watched the big organizations do great work. But as a person who’s been self-employed all of my adult life, the corporate side of larger organizations bothers me.

There’s a lot of information and misinformation floating around so you never know who to believe. The contact I have calls me and tells me the day and time when a shelter is going to be closed. I show up a couple hours prior. I walk the hallways and curbs out front lined with people. I ask simple questions. I pay for cab fare. I give out money and gift cards if appropriate. Over and over a large percentage of the people that I’ve handed cash to in these shelters told me that they have not had cash since the day they evacuated. They ask me who I am.

I say, “I’m Scott”.

They ask “Where’s this money coming from? Nobody just shows up to give out money”, they say.

I reply, “This is coming from a lot of people who love you.”

I left a shelter that was being closed the other day. I walked by a volunteer table. I heard one say to the other, “Don’t worry. They’ll pay you with gift cards.” I have to think that is not true and I’m not trying to say anything or imply anything. I’m sure these types of things happen in emergencies as massive as this has been, but if it’s true it frustrates me.

I spent most of the day in Chico yesterday. I had a person at High-Hand asked me, “What do you mean by peeling back the layers of an onion?’

I told them you can’t eat an onion like an apple.

I circle back to the Walmart parking lot every time I leave town. There’s always someone there with a need who I haven’t made contact with. A dog barked at me next to a tent and a lady came out.

I told the lady, “My name is Scott”.

I asked her if there was anything I could help her with

She said, “A lot of people ask that question.”

I said to her, “Let me rephrase it. Why are you here and how can I help you leave here?”

“My house is still standing in Magalia. It’s considered inhabitable. So I’m here in a tent waiting for FEMA to give me a time when they can go with me to inspect my house. My autistic son was having a hard time in the shelters and doesn’t understand what’s going on. My car is broken. I was able to spend my last money on a clutch cable because I think that’s the problem. But I can’t find a mechanic to come here and fix it in the parking lot. My cell phone is dead and somebody took my phone charger.”

I gave her twenty dollars and told her to go to Walmart to buy a phone charger and find a place to plug it in and that I would be back in an hour.

I had to walk and think about it for a minute. I had to think of a game plan. What could I do? As I walked I came across a young family I’d not seen before.

I asked the same questions of her that I’d asked the previous lady.

“My husband took off with the car to try to get some things. The last I heard from him was that he forgot the phone charger and the car was broke down.”

I asked, “Why are you guys still here? If I paid for a hotel tonight would you go and we’ll find your husband later?”

“All of our possessions are in the trailer and I can’t leave them. We can’t find storage.”

She said the trailer had been broken into once and if she leaves it would surely disappear. She gave her phone charger to someone else who never returned it. So, at this point, I’m thinking, “Okay. We’ve got a husband broken down somewhere and we don’t know where he is. We have a wife and three kids without a working cell phone who won’t leave the parking lot because she has to keep an eye on her trailer.”

Do you understand now what I mean by peeling the layers of an onion?

I bought her a charger. I found a plug at a security trailer to charge it. She had plenty of clothes, but no money. She said she was still breast feeding so she was trying to stay hydrated. I gave her a few gift cards to Walmart and cash, thanks to your donations.

Meanwhile, I’d gotten a hold of a tow company for $60. Found a mechanic who would take the lady’s car to figure out what was going on with the clutch.

Did I tell you her battery was stolen? I told her to call me when the car got picked up and I was in touch with the mechanic this morning. I authorized a repair for a new battery and clutch for $650. She said she’s fine and the mechanic says the car will be done tomorrow, at which time she’ll head over to FEMA and figure out what’s going on.

Today, I got a call from the husband. I spoke to his wife. I asked him where he was yesterday. He said something broke in his truck and spewed gas all over the place as he was driving and had spent the night on the side of the road. He was calling from a phone at Denny’s. He was very apologetic and was confused about who I was. I told him not to worry about who I was and to just go with it.

He said, “I’m trying to figure out what to do. My head’s just been in a fog.”

He’s back with his wife and kids today in the tent. His car is at the same shop where I took the Mustang. Four hundred dollars worth of repairs and they get to move forward. I told him to call me tomorrow when he gets the vehicle back, gets the tent packed up and the trailer hooked up. He has money for a full tank of gas and food. We’ll take the next step from there. I don’t know what it is yet.

It’s an onion. You have to peel it one layer at a time.

With you and I as we move through our daily lives, most of us can go to the ATM and pull out $100 and solve our problem. But for all the people that I’ve come across and have been able to help based on your donations, there is no safety net and what safety net is there is changing daily. It’s a moving target and there’s no margin for error. Your donations have moved people to the next step with $100 to $900. It’s all because of you. You have to know that.

This is the hay barn at Cowboy 911.

Thanks to your donations, two more semis of hay were delivered yesterday. To date, your donations designated for Cowboy 911 have loaded four semi truck loads of hay and next week a semi truck load of various grains and animal feed will be delivered. It took me a few days to create some inroads at a feed mill in Ceres, CA, but it’s done and the food is flowing. Next week, we will send two more semi truck loads of hay. The balance in our hay account will be about $1500 after all of this is completed. I’m not going to forget the animals.

It’s a separate fight for me and I only use the money that is designated to Cowboy 911 to purchase the semi truck loads of feed to the animals.

I’ve gotten several emails from people that say Cowboy 911 is being shut down and being chased off the mountain. I sat down with “Cowboy 911 Will.” That’s what I call him. I asked Will about the rumors. He replied, “Nope.”

When I was trying to explain to you that we were moving food up into the fire area for the animals, I really wondered if people truly knew the scope of the operation.

Now you know. Does Cowboy 911 look like they’re being shut down? They got the military on their side. If you wish to donate, it’s very much appreciated. They are tired, but committed and won’t stop until Spring comes and neither will I.

During my trip yesterday, I was able to distribute your donations to well over 150 people in various locations and various conditions. I wish I could put up all the pictures I have. I wish you could see all the happiness and tears. I wish you could hear all the thank you’s.

Tomorrow I hope to finish peeling the onion with the folks and their cars.

On my way out of town last night I stopped at another shelter. One that had been stricken with norovirus. I was told not to go there as there are people in Hazmat suits. I didn’t see a single mask on anyone when I arrived. I distributed cash to people with armbands. People in shelters are identified by armbands so I don’t have to ask a lot of questions. Most had not had cash in their hands since they evacuated. Can you imagine starting your life from that place and in that position?

I was told by a lady that no one had come into the shelter, ever. In the parking lot I found a disabled lady with a wheelchair in the back of her car. She left the shelter to live in the parking lot because of the norovirus. It was dark and it was raining. I gave her some Visa gift cards and $100 cash. She’ll use it to warm up her car with the engine. A couple of gentlemen in a tent next door were helping her get out to the bathroom when needed. I told her I’d be back to check on her and I will.

I was able to get to the couple in the tent. The dog ended up being a big cuddly polar bear. He did stop me in my tracks, however. I handed him a gift card to Petco and took care of his parents as well.

There’s a town outside of Chico with a population of 230 or so. It’s population now has swelled to over a thousand. I talked to a lady at the volunteer fire department. She told me that no one had contacted them and they haven’t seen anybody. Cell service is limited in their location. Most people there don’t have any money for gas to drive down the mountain to Chico. I asked her to email me their top three priorities and I would see what I could do. I’m working on it.

I have gotten a lot of thank you’s. Without a wonderful staff who has my back here at High-Hand and your kindness and donations, I can’t do what I’m doing. I haven’t stopped to cry. I have received a lot of messages from people telling me to take care and take some time to breathe and decompress. I don’t know how to do that right now. I will tell you I’ve been self-employed all my adult life. I know my tolerances and I know where my edges are. I’m fine.

Your donations bring me to tears. Your generosity and the unconditional support to our neighbors is inspiring. You have asked yourselves a question, “What would love do now?” And you have let the answer guide you.

Our lighting ceremony is this Saturday and as it approaches I find myself getting more and more uncomfortable about it. It’s dedicated to the souls of the Camp Fire and to all those who have to put their lives back together.

Weather willing, we will flip the lights at 5:30 p.m. Donations of gift cards and cash are greatly appreciated.

On behalf of everybody your donations have been able to help, we thank you very much. Hope to see you Saturday night.

Scott

How can you help out those impacted by the Camp Fire?

You have helped out so much! Here is what’s needed – Visa Gift Cards and cash. Gift cards and cash can be delivered directly to the nursery or sent to us by mail. Our address is:

Attn: Nichole
High-Hand Nursery
P.O. Box 2280
Loomis, CA 95650

You can also call us and give us a credit card over the phone. Our number is 916-652-2065. We will turn all checks and credit card transactions into cash.

So Much To Say From High-Hand

I want to update you on the donations that have been disbursed, what I have been doing and what the plan is moving forward.

I have to admit I’m getting a bit frustrated, but maybe it’s because I’m really tired. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to rifle through what’s been going on and where we go from here.

I told you about a little girl we got off from the Walmart parking lot thanks to your donations. I decided to publish a picture with her face cropped out. I just thought you’d like to know what your donations helped create.

Her mother, her three week old sister and herself are no longer there and are being safely cared for in Gilroy. This is as a result of your donations. Thank you. There are more children who need help. I will keep seeking them out.

I’ve been traveling in circles, going from shelter to shelter to shelter to shelter. The Red Cross doesn’t know what to do with me. My contacts have gotten me through the front door as they keep the shelters fairly locked down. When I can’t get in the front door, I walk in from the back as if I owned the place. I get in. I get out. I hand out your gifts. The gifts are met with tears, smiles and gratefulness. As they have been consolidating shelters, security at those shelters has gotten tighter and tighter. The Red Cross contacts who I had are being sent home. Getting through the front door with no contacts can be a bit difficult. No problem. I continue to go in the back door.

As the shelters have been consolidated, there are three different types of population within them. There are the homeless people of Paradise. There are disabled people and handicapped people with special needs. And then there are people with cars that are mobile that have no place to go or no means to leave.

The homeless people and handicapped people will be hard to place in homes because of special needs. There are organizations stepping up to assist these folks. The wheels of assistance turn really slow.

I have a new contact with Red Cross. We spoke today. I asked him to identify those people with vehicles and find out what they need to move along. It’s a simple question. Who knows? It could be as simple as gas money.

It’s an onion. It’s about peeling away the layers. I’ve identified three already and your donations will assist in moving these people along.

I was told by the Red Cross that they are not allowed to ask individual people their specific needs. Seems crazy. You have no idea how many families and individuals you have helped. I will throw elbows and go in the back door if need be.

I’ve been circling back to the Walmart parking lot, observing the changes there. I’ve noticed the same cars and RV’s have been there all along and I wondered why. So, I knocked on their doors and asked them what they needed to move along.

This gentleman was out of gas. All I did was knock on his window and ask what he needed. I asked his address in Paradise. I looked it up on my phone and I fulfilled his need. Thanks to your donations, I watched him drive off after buying a gas can at Walmart to carry gas to his truck.

I knocked on this person’s door. “What do you need”, I asked, “to leave the parking lot?”

He said someone stole his battery. I gave him a gift card and told him I would be back. I told him if he could start the RV, I would give him the money necessary to fill his tank. Thanks to your donations, I watched him drive off.

This gentleman needed an alternator. He said he could replace it himself. With gift cards to purchase the alternator and tools he needed, his problem was solved. I gave him a few bucks for gas. Thanks to your donations, he’s been able to move on.

I don’t understand it. It’s very frustrating for me. These are simple needs that shine a ray of light into their dark universe. It is the human condition to walk toward the light. It’s a start.

Today, your donations helped a family of seven purchase a set of tires and gas money so they could drive to Pennsylvania to their family with their belongings. It seemed like a lot, but not really. $900.00 removed seven people from a shelter and sent them on their way to family back east. When you remove seven people from a shelter it frees up a lot of resources to help others.

Let’s talk about the animals. We are working with Cowboy 911 directly. Here’s the list:

  • Pig feed – 10 pallets
  • Layers crumble – 10 pallets
  • Goat feed (no showmaker) – 15 pallets
  • Sheep feed (no showmaker) – 15 pallets
  • Llama feed – 4 pallets
  • Rabbit feed – 5 pallets
  • Cat food – 20 pallets
  • Dry cob – 5 pallets
  • Emu food – 1 pallet
  • Wet cat food – 3 pallets
  • Wet dog food – 3 pallets
  • Indoor bird feed – 1 pallet
  • Grass hay – 100 tons
  • Alfalfa – 100 tons
  • Grain hay – 100 tons

Here’s where we’re at with hay contributions to Cowboy 911. Many of you have donated money for hay and Cowboy 911. Please know that I did not just run out and blindly spend your money. I am scratching and clawing my way through to stretch the dollar.

Currently in the “hay account”, we have $15,450.00 thanks to your donations. I sent up the first truck load of hay myself. We have a semi truckload of food grade wheat hay that I purchased for $2,500.00. Today, I located two semi truckloads of grass hay for $3,000.00. These three loads, a total of $5,500.00 will be delivered this week. Thanks for your donations.

When I read the list of their needs I asked, “Emus? You’ve got to be kidding.”

We chuckled. He replied with a chuckle, “I have a frickin ark of animals up here with no boat.”

I said, “The boat is coming.”

I am working with a wholesale supplier of animal feed. We are trying to arrange three additional semi truck loads of feed. My plan is to peel this list off like an onion, one layer at a time. I will deposit money personally as need be to continue our efforts to feed the animals in the fire zone. The animals will not be forgotten.

Cowboy 911 is focused on three things:

  • Delivering food directly to drop points within the fire zones. Animals are up there just wandering around.
  • Delivering food to population zones where animals have collected themselves.
  • Reuniting the animals with their owners.

If you wish to help peel this onion with me, I need cash. I promise you I will shop and scrape and throw elbows to get the best deal I possibly can.

Today I spoke with Chief Casey Carlson of the Paradise Police Department. Chief Carlson lost his house in the fire and is living in a trailer in Chico. Five of his officers lost everything in the fire. Thanks to your donations, we are delivering cash into Casey’s hands. He is going to distribute the cash straight into the hands of the five officers who lost their homes. In addition, he and I will be in contact as other needs are identified.

If you wish to donate, please identify your donation as “Chief Carlson”. I will personally put the donations into his hands. From there, he will directly distribute the donations to the first responders in need.

We’ve identified 28 families locally in hotels who lost everything in the Paradise fire. We have distributed twenty $50 laundry cards donated by a local laundromat. I went from hotel to hotel and simply asked questions. “Whose here and how can we help?”

I’ve been to the lobbies of these hotels a number of times in the past twenty four hours handing out cash and gift cards. Their needs are pretty simple. It’s gas money to get back and forth from Chico to get through the FEMA process. It’s gift cards to buy clothes for their children they were not able to get through Goodwill. And if it’s okay with you, I’ve been giving $5.00 to the children I’ve come across for them to spend at their will. Ranging in ages from four to twelve, they are thrilled.

I will remain in contact with these families to fulfill any needs they may have to step out and step forward.

Here are photos I received from a fire evacuee. I talked to her today in a hotel lobby.

This was her house as she left in her pajamas to drive her two young children from Magalia to Paradise to attend school. She had not heard there was a fire at this point.

On her way to school, this was the scene.

As she continued to drive, it got worse.

The drive out of Paradise in the morning.

This picture was taken at 11:40 a.m.. That’s right. I said “a.m.”. She was stuck in gridlock traffic for almost seven hours.

This is her house. She left home in her pajamas to take her children on a routine trip to school. She was unable to return to the house. Thanks to your donations, you have provided some warm clothes for her children and gas money. She was one of the lucky ones. She had insurance, but she says it’s moving really slow. It won’t cover everything.

There are many, many needs. Frankly, my head is spinning because everywhere I look there is a need. I am so grateful for your donations. Being able to hand them directly to a person has made an impact on so many people, I can’t even tell you.

It’s an onion. Your donations are peeling the layers away one at a time.

Here’s what we’re doing now.

Shelters – I will continue to travel the shelters trying to figure out ways to help those with cars to leave the shelters, using the back door if need be.

East Avenue Shelter – It is not supported by Red Cross nor Salvation Army. I don’t know why. I will continue to be in contact with Pastor Ron to supply the necessary support so that he can get the 270 people mobile and out on their own.

Chief Carlson – I’m focused on first responders. He will deliver donations directly to the hands who need them and other people he’s come in contact with.

Donnie – Donnie the high school teacher, whom we helped, went back to work today at Chico High School. He’s back up in Chico and I’m working with him to identify the needs of his students and fellow teachers from Paradise.

The teachers and first responders are a big part of the backbone of a community. Let’s help them get up on their feet so they can help the community.

Walmart Parking Lot – I will keep my eye on it to make sure I can continue to help people move along.

Cowboy 911 – I will not forget about the animals. I will continue to peel away their needs as a matter of priority, spending the money wisely. They have a long winter ahead of them up in the fire zone. Let’s not forget about the animals.

How can you help? You have helped out so much that the following is no longer needed:

  • They are no longer taking any used items.
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, etc are plentiful in the shelters and Salvation Army.

Here’s what is needed:

  • Gift Cards
  • Cash

Gift cards and cash can be delivered directly to the nursery or sent to us by mail. Our address is

High-Hand Nursery, P.O. Box 2280, Loomis, CA 95650, attention Nichole.

You can also call us and give us a credit card over the phone. Our number is 916-652-2065. We will turn all checks and credit card transactions into cash.

This year’s Christmas tree lighting this Saturday, December 1 at High-Hand Nursery is dedicated to the victims and souls of those lost in the fires. I’ve seen their faces. It’s so unimaginable.

If you are attending our tree lighting ceremony and wish to make a donation, we will accept gift cards, cash, checks, and credit cards.

I promise you I will personally see that these funds are distributed straight into the artery of those in need. If you wish to donate for fire relief, Chief Carlson, Cowboy 911 and Donnie for school supplies and/or fellow teachers who have lost their homes, please indicate with your donation.

I cannot thank you enough for trusting us and allowing us to help those directly affected.

I have stopped complaining about things. My perspective has completely changed.

We are blessed.

Scott

Grateful Giving

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. For some reason, I’m kind of numb to the thought of it. Having traveled north many times, I guess my perspective is just a little bit different right now. Being grateful means a whole lot more than I ever thought it did.

We say we are grateful at Thanksgiving. Sometimes I think we throw it out casually for the occasion. Sit at your Thanksgiving table tomorrow. Take a deep breath and pause. Take a moment and think about what you’re truly grateful for and what is most important. Hug the loved ones around you. Life can change in just a single moment and alter the landscape forever.

Take a moment to think about the people affected by the fires. They are in shelters, in tents, in cars. They are trying to think about long term life and the quality of life that lies ahead with no true direction.

Tomorrow while you’re sitting at the Thanksgiving table in a warm home surrounded by family, keep our neighbors to the north close to your heart. Let the thoughts of them wash away your anxiety and any stress that you may have.

I have bad days. Every time I hear a siren on one of those days, I always think to myself, “My day is not so bad after all.”

Let the thoughts of those affected by the fires recalibrate your perspective on what is important in life. Look at your family and your loved ones and then look at your home and ask yourself how much more do you need.

We are blessed.

A lot of people have said “thank you” to us. I am thankful for you. None of this would happen without you. As I hand out your gifts of love, I don’t linger too much. So many people need to be attended to. I move on as fast as I can as daylight disappears. There’s not much to say. I simply say, “Here’s a gift for you.”

That is usually met with tears, shock, disbelief or a smile.

Occasionally I do look back. I see one of you every time I look back. I wish you could see the impact of your gifts. I have a few pictures. I just choose not to publish them.

Today, we sent the truck up with new items, turkeys, medical supplies, masks, gloves, bleach. I am getting texts from nurses on the front line asking for items that are beyond what they can provide for specific individuals in need. Your gifts have helped so many families.

You have to understand that when you have nothing, a $100 gift allows you to take a step forward from a position of despair. Your gift creates a crack in the universe where the sun shines through.

We will travel up there three times more this week. We will go where the meals are served. We will go to the shelters. We will find the tents and we will continue to supply whatever is needed.

There are so many people up there doing great work. It is so heartwarming to see humanity at its best.

I find myself unable to think about Christmas. My thoughts are paralyzed on all the people I’ve come across. We have our annual tree lighting on December 1st. I feel silly even bringing it up. But this year we dedicate it to the victims and the souls lost in the California fires. If you are coming to the tree lighting, please remember them. A gift card or cash would be greatly appreciated. I promise you it will go straight into the hands of those in need.

I look forward to the week ahead in continuing your efforts to help those in need. We have been able to stage a second semi-truck load of hay and feed to be distributed in the fire zone. We would like to stage a third. As winter comes upon us, its only going to get worse. We are 4 months away from Spring. The animals cannot be forgotten.

Be grateful this Thanksgiving.

Wishing you and your family the very best.

Scott

Thank You For Giving and an Update

This is an update of the last three days in our efforts to help victims of the Camp Fire. I’d like to thank you. Our efforts to date would not be possible without you. When I say “our”, I mean us. All of us. All of you who have given donations and gift cards have helped facilitate an outreach of giving, caring and love.

We have made trips into Chico several times since Thursday. All of the clothes, sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets have been distributed. We have disbursed over $10,000 of gift cards and cash directly into the evacuees’ hands. We will continue this as long as we can.

After several trips, I can tell you that every trip is different. This weekend was considered the transit weekend. The Red Cross, FEMA and local authorities are trying to transport everyone who’s living in tents into shelters. There are some that are leery to go. They are trying to hold onto their spot that they have carved out for themselves.

The many people I have come in contact with have been understandably dazed and confused. Your gifts have caused many to break down in tears. They always say “thank you”. One gentleman said, “I didn’t think anybody cared.”

Shelters are popping up here and there. They’re either permanent or temporary. The Salvation Army is doing a good job in preparing food at the shelters. The Red Cross is doing a great job in logistical support and medical attention. The norovirus is creating problems, but not deterring the Red Cross or Salvation Army volunteers. There are private shelters as well that are not supported by the network. Your donations are going to those shelters as well.

We have reached out to hundreds of people, thanks to your donations. Jim, a Vietnam vet, who lived alone in Magalia, was leery of receiving any contribution. Thanks to your donations he has received needed cash for the basics of life as he sits in a shelter for the last ten days.

The three week old baby girl in the Walmart parking lot, her mother, grandmother and five year old sister, Faith, are now staying in an RV in Gridley. They have received gift cards and basics. The Dalmatian blanket Faith received has been therapeutic.

Locally there are several families in hotels. We have made contact and have been able to disburse funds as well. One gentleman, his five children and wife, lost everything as they fled. He’s a high school teacher in Paradise. With his basic needs being met at this time, he has agreed to help us distribute gift cards to fire victims in Chico. While his needs are great, I am grateful for his willingness to pay it forward. Who better to deliver your gifts than a person who is living the Hell.

We’ve established a network and are receiving requests daily. My new friend, Kevin, is traveling from shelter to shelter, identifying specific, pointed needs. I delivered one hundred gallons of milk and dispersed it accordingly, thanks to your donations.

My two Red Cross friends are also moving about and sending back contact information of people in dire need. Jim, the Vietnam vet was one of them. A proud, proud man he is. He told me over the phone he’s never had to ask anybody for anything, but I explained to him that he needs to receive in order move forward. He cried. He is grateful.

FEMA has opened this weekend at the Sears store in the Chico mall. They are busing people into the center where they can get new I.D.’s and fill out paperwork to get started. We are meeting people at that line and are distributing needed gifts directly.

Today, we have identified nine more families. Donny, the school teacher who lost his home in the fire, will set out tomorrow to pass forward gift cards.

We are keeping an eye on the families that are arriving in our local area as well as they are outside the donation zone. We are helping with food and basics.

We have distributed your gift cards to 28 different First Responders and their families who have lost their homes. We will continue to seek out First Responders in need.

A story that does not get talked about often is the animals. Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley is doing well taking care of about 100 horses. Cats and dogs are at the Chico airport. There’s over 1,000 there and it’s growing. While they are being cared for and needs being met, it is ongoing. A bigger tragedy is up in the fire zone itself. Today, I delivered a semi-truck load of hay to Cowbow 911.

Cowboy 911 is a group of people who are up in the fire zone bringing animals off the hills. Cows, sheep, goats, horses. The animals roam around, not knowing where to go. The hay is being distributed directly into the fire zone to support the animals. We are grateful to be able to support Cowboy 911 them in their amazing efforts.

I can’t thank you enough for your response. The situation north is fluid and ever changing.

The need for blankets and sleeping bags is starting to slow down. You have provided 5 truckloads to date. The most helpful items right now are gift cards and cash. I used cash to buy the hundred gallons of milk, for instance.

Tomorrow gift cards will be delivered to a grandmother and her nine year old grandson. He turns 10 on Saturday and has no shoes. Thank you for helping him.

High-Hand provided the funds for the semi-truck load of hay today. Your donations are going directly to people in need. I would like to send up another truck load of hay after Thanksgiving. A truck load of hay costs around $4,500. We truck it from Dixon. If you wish to contribute cash for future truckloads of hay to support Cowboy 911, it is greatly appreciated.

The last four days for me have been challenging, rewarding and humbling. I have so many pictures I would love to post of the people you have helped. They are so sincere and grateful. The simple gifts you have provided have lightened their hearts.

I promise you your gifts will continue to go straight into the hands of those in dire need. Our network of identifying those in need is growing and more and more people are being helped by your generosity.

Thank you for allowing us and trusting us to bless those in need.

I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Scott

It’s Time To Give

It’s time to give. I have my family. I have my home. I work with great people on a daily basis. I have my business. I am upset about what is happening to our neighbors to the north.

I buy cover crop seed for the farm from a gentleman named Bill from Paradise. Bill has his life. He lost his home, his business and his siblings lost their homes as well. I talked to Bill this weekend and I’ve been thinking about him ever since. I didn’t know what to say. He told me he was trying to get his mind around things. Not much else to say. I suppose Bill was one of the lucky ones. He and his family have their lives.

I can only imagine the hell that our neighbors have been going through.

I haven’t been able to sleep and I’ve been in a bad mood.

This is the time of year when we should be talking about the festivities coming up. This is the time of year when our emails are filled with ideas for great gifts and holiday celebration. For me personally, I’m having a hard time going there. All I can think about is Bill and the hell that our neighbors are going through.

Take pause and think about how lucky you are. It’s time to give. It’s just that simple.

High-Hand Nursery and Loomis Basin Brewery are accepting donations to help our neighbors to the north affected by the Butte County Camp Fire. We will receive donations up until 5:00 p.m., Thursday.

Friday morning we will load up our delivery truck and head north to the evacuees in Chico. We will keep doing this until we’re told to stop. Every Friday we will make a run to Chico with donated items.

We are seeking:

  • Gift cards for food and gas
  • Paper plates, cups, plastic utensils
  • Blankets
  • New underwear, mostly for women and girls
  • New socks
  • Tents
  • Sleeping bags

We will accept cash donations. Cash donations will be converted into gift cards for food and gas.

I have my family. I have my home. I am blessed. For me, it’s very simple. I am going to Walmart to load up.

We ask humbly for your donations. Our neighbors to the north are going through something I just can’t fathom.

I have faith in the human spirit that we will bring ourselves together in community and do our small part in bringing comfort.

From all of us from High-Hand Nursery and Loomis Basin Brewery we thank you.

Be grateful.

Scott

• UPDATE •

Since yesterday’s email we’ve received a lot of responses, donations, and thoughts. With every tragedy comes a tremendous amount of unknowns. The needs are ever changing.

A lady called us today asking for a donation of underwear for her and her daughter. As we talked to her more she explained that she was from Magalia, not Paradise. She had lost everything. She has made it to Cool, where her parents are. There’s no access to donations since she’s outside that zone. Because of your generous cash and gift card donations, we were able to give her access. Thank you for making that happen.

I hear stories of not having I.D. and being turned away by major non-profits due to lack of proof of residency. That pisses me off. Seriously. Most people left their homes with just their shirt on their back.

We’ve been contacted by many people in response to our email. So many stories. So many tragedies. It’s going to hurt for a very long time.

We received a response from Kathy. She wrote, “I looked around my house and asked ‘What do I need for Christmas? NOTHING!'”

“No Christmas gifts for me”, she said. “Just donate”.

Understand that First Responders lost everything as well. Incredibly sad.

All this has gotten me thinking. Let’s just be honest. I have no problem giving. I will give to the Red Cross and United Way, but I always feel more comfortable if I know it’s going directly to a person in need. I always give more and dig deeper if I know it’s going straight into the artery of the need.

We’re going to deliver all your donations on Monday. They will most likely be taken to Gridley where they will be sorted and organized for distribution. We will be accepting donations through the weekend.

What is needed most are gift cards. We’ve had people drop off cash, all of which will be converted to gift cards. We’ve had people drop off gift cards as well. Stacks of them. I would suspect that a Visa or Mastercard prepaid would be most useful and give access to almost anywhere a person could need.

I have a hard time handing over a stack of gift cards and not knowing where they’re going. I want to know what I know. I want to know that these gift cards are being delivered straight to people in need. So, we are going to do just that. As long as you bring us gift cards, we are going to drive to Chico and distribute them directly to the people in need ourselves.

We are also going to identify people who are outside the donation zone without direct access. We will make sure there is a need and we will solve it. It’s just that simple.

Thank you so much for your support so far. I did not sleep last night, but my heart feels a little bit lighter. We are now in the mode of serving people and we will make sure that your gift card donations are handed straight to people in need.

Write a small note. Tell them you love them. As long as we receive gift cards throughout the holiday we will continue to find ways to distribute them directly.

From our hearts, thank you.

Scott

• UPDATE 11/16/18 •

Yesterday I left High-Hand with a truck load of blankets, sleeping bags and gift cards. I had no real target – I just went to seek out a need. I made five stops and learned a lot. Volunteers are doing their best, but what I discovered was most of the distribution and donation centers are no longer taking anything used as far as clothes are concerned. I was able to directly distribute over $6,000 in gift cards, blankets and sleeping bags. At the Butte Fairgrounds the Red Cross is setting up to feed. As the weather gets worse they will be moving people indoors to community centers there. Your donations went to a lady warming her tent with a hair dryer, sleeping bags to a grandmother with grandchildren, gas cards went a mother with a 3 week old baby using her cars engine for warmth. She had a choice to make, use the gas to keep her baby warm or drive out to the Salvation Army to get the things she needed. Your donations solved both of her needs. After later notifying the police about her condition they are now trying to find her to offer further help.

I now know where to take used items and new items. If everything is just sent up in a pile it will stay in a pile. We are a separating new from used and into categories as we can take them to specific places to be distributed.

Here’s what we need:

  • Huge need for gift cards for food and gas
  • New children’s toys
  • Brand new sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, sheets (due to the outbreak of the Norovirus, all bedding of those afflicted must be destroyed)

Here’s what’s no longer needed:

  • Clothes are no longer needed and are being turned away

Currently I’m heading back up with another load of blankets and sleeping bags. I am coordinating with a lady named Kim who is directing what she can and pointing us to areas that just can’t get to the donation stations. The Red Cross is overwhelmed as you can imagine as well as other organizations. We have identified families that are on the move and we’re providing assistance. In case we didn’t stress it enough, the greatest need is simply gift cards. All cash donations will be converted into gift cards as well.

Things are constantly changing and with your help we will stay ahead of it. I promise you that your donations will go straight into the artery of the need. Hard goods are cumbersome to distribute. I have a contact on the ground up there that will tell me where the need is, it changes daily.

We can’t thank you enough for your kindness, love and support – the situation is so sad, but your donations and gifts are so appreciated.

Thank you,
Scott