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Two wildfires, that started here in Arizona in late June, merged and together burned nearly one half million acres of forest. During the multi-week long fire, over 30,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes and more than 400 homes were lost. It was this states largest wildfire in recorded history.
On a Tuesday morning, one of the local Arizona Vritual Jeep Club (AZVJC) members suggested putting together a relief run. He suggested we try to get as many Jeeps as possible to take supplies to the evacuee shelters for the upcoming Saturday. What happened in those 5 days was nothing short of a small miracle, in my opinion. Over 100 members signed up for the run, stocked with supplies that the shelter was in need of. We bought toys for the children and supplies for the animal shelter as well. Troy, from Toys by Troy, brought his tow rig (loaded with supplies) and a vehicle trailer so he could tow any unfortunate member that required some assistance (and it was pressed into service before the trip was done). I quickly posted a request for financial contributions on two on-line forums. My "virtual" friends donated just over $1000 to the cause. (Thank you all so very much!)
The pictures in this write-up can not begin to show the warmth, generosity, and fellowship that was experienced on that Saturday. The emotions ran high for both our group and the evacuees that were living in the shelter. But they were tears of joy....and they will be remembered by me forever.
Here are a few photos, in something that resembles the order in which things pretty much happened.
I asked a few Jeepin' friends to help me out with the visit to
Sam's Club and Wall-Mart. I didn't have the vehicle space to haul the
supplies over to the Saturday morning meeting spot where some others had extra
space to help transport the supplies.
With my PayPal debit card in hand, we made it past the checkout
person and out the door. We said our goodbyes to the front door greeter
(and Sam's Club card checker) and pushed our three carts out to the parking lot.
Aside from helping get supplies to the wildfire victims, this relief run open the doors to a lot of new friendships. Gordon, the owner of this Cheokee, responded to my e-mail request, on the AZVJC e-mail reflector, for help in transporting supplies. Before we were done shopping on Friday evening, we loaded up this vehicle, a J-10 pickup truck, and my TJ.
Saturday morning arrived and we arrived at the Taco Bell parking lot in Fountain Hills. Joe and Joyce had picked up an emergency shipment of RED t-shirts from the local 4x4 shop. The AZVJC has taken to wearing these "got rocks?" t-shirts to all of our functions. It originally was done to set us apart from the "green folks" that attend the public land use meetings. It has basically become our trademark and when we all walk into a building, it does draw the focus to our group. For our relief run, it was to show our solidarity for the wildfire victims.
One of the members made up some decals for our vehicles. We donated $5 or more for a decal and the proceeds went to the shelter. A couple of the local 4x4 fabricators donated some gift certificates which were raffled off. All total, the decals and gift certificates generated more than $1000 in contributions.
More Wildfire Relief Run
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