JOHN DAY — A nine-vehicle convoy from Sandy dropped off thousands of pounds of donations Saturday for firefighters and community members affected by the Canyon Creek Complex fire.
The convoy, which included four school buses stocked with basic supplies and goodies, also dropped off eight tons of hay for animals impacted by the fire.
The donations were unloaded at the Canyon Creek Complex fire incident base on the Grant County Fairgrounds.
Fire officials learned about the convoy and its donations “when they showed up at the back gate,” said Stacy Weems, Great Basin Incident Management Team public information officer.
“Someone came in and said, ‘We have four buses full of supplies for the firefighters and the community, where can we unload them?’” she said.
Sandy resident Pamela Botts started organizing the donation drive last Thursday and enlisted the community’s help. She was assisted by her co-workers with First Student, a private school bus contracting company.
After learning about the fires burning in this area, “We decided we needed to help the eastern side of Oregon,” she said. “We want to show them we love them. We just want to show them we care on the west side.”
Nineteen cities donated items, including clothing, socks, towels, lip balm, sports drinks, snacks, energy drinks, foot powder, multiple food items and 4,000 pounds of snack crackers.
The hay was transported on one-ton pickup trucks.
The Sandy Fire Department, which has firefighters fighting the Canyon Creek Complex fire, donated $500 and escorted the convoy to the county line in the department’s fire trucks.
Botts estimated the value of all the donations at about $15,000.
Weems said firefighters were floored by the donations.
“This is actually a little overwhelming; it’s fantastic,” she said. “They drove all the way from Sandy, and it took them five hours to get here and they said they just wanted to help the community.”
Donations have poured in from many groups and places, and it means a lot to the firefighters both in practical terms and on an emotional level, Weems said.
“When there’s such an outpouring of caring and giving, it makes a big difference to them,” she said. “I think it helps boost the firefighters’ morale.”