By Tony Mace
I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for the outpouring of generosity I witnessed from the community over the weekend of March 27-31 during a fundraiser that was held at Safeway in Frontier Village, Lake Stevens. A few friends both in the Fire Service and in the community set out to try and do “something” while we waited to be able to help out at the site of the Oso mudslide tragedy, as they had enough resources on site.
After seeing what a few people were doing up in Arlington to raise money, fuel cards and basic necessities to assist the affected families in front of a couple grocery stores, we banded together on a moment’s notice and asked Safeway if we could do something similar at their location. From the top down, the employees of Safeway were unbelievable. They not only allowed us to use their space, they daily asked us if they could donate anything that was needed by the volunteers including coffee, food, chairs, tables, etc. They were unbelievable. Thank you.
People used Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth and the news media to get the word out and pretty soon the grassroots fundraiser was exploding. A radio DJ from KZOK came by and asked us if he could put us on the radio the next morning to explain what we were doing. Krystal Lowe, one of the people who volunteered, designed a logo, took it to Bill’s Blueprint Printing in Everett and they gave us a 2’x3’ laminated print for free, and then offered to make any other ones up for people for $20 and donate the proceeds to the fundraising efforts. Derek Roberts had a printing company who made 1,000 stickers to give out to people with the logo “Oso Strong” on it.
On average we had 8 to 15 people a day who came out to help us, including several members of the Lake Stevens Fire Departmet, and they are too many to name so just know that each and every one of you are appreciated for what you’ve done. A special thanks to Bruce Huston, Joe and Veronica Mulligan, Theresa Davis, Missy Liddiatt and Krystal Lowe for your countless hours you gave. To those who drove both days and unloaded everything … thank you.
We had food donated to us by Pizza Hut one day. A customer donated to the cause and then brought us back pizza from Sahara for us to eat. Another customer donated and then gave us a $50 Starbucks card to keep us in coffee. Bethann Bodin of Thunderfoot Riding and Training in Lake Stevens donated a horse trailer for us to use to haul items. Thank you.
Several people would bring out entire carts full of groceries and not take anything out for themselves. Just leave the entire cart. It was amazing. In 4?½ days we raised $38,900 in cash and fuel cards to donate at Coastal Community Bank. Lake Stevens Professional Fire Fighters Local 3235 donated $5,000. We also collected two box vans full of items, two horse trailers full of water and Gatorade and a pick-up truck completely full. We had to deliver in two separate loads, one on Sunday and the other on Monday.
During this process we joined forces with the Arlington people to form the Faceboook Group Oso Strong. Between us we donated to Oso Fire Department, and Darrington the logging community, through the family of Shari Brewer, and formed lifelong friendships and partnerships with the Family Support and Resource Center in Darrington through our donation to them. We’ve continued to support them after our event was over as so many people continue to give.
In the face of this unimaginable tragedy where so many families have lost so much, the light of the spirit of community has never shined so bright while supporting those in need. Thank you. #OsoStrong
Tony Mace is a longtime local firefighter.