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
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.