Truckers and farmers, including many from Michigan, are working together to deliver much-needed aid to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado where wildfires have burned some 2 million acres of grasslands, killing cattle, destroying farms, and taking the lives of at least seven people.
Farmers are donating hay, farm supply stores have contributed feed, 4-H groups, and even chapters of a college sorority are pitching in to raise funds for the effort. And, of course, truckers have stepped up to do what they do best: Make sure the goods get delivered.
A convoy of six trucks departed Michigan Friday morning, March 17, carrying tons of hay, feed, milk replacement for calves, fencing, and other supplies.
And the result? This Facebook post by Debbie Hilton of Enid, Oklahoma pretty much says it all:
“They made it to eastern Beaver County Oklahoma!! Thank you Michigan Convoy and all those who donated! We are speechless and humbled. Your generosity has left us overwhelmed. Thank you is all we have !!”
The convoy was the idea of Matt Schaller, a truck driver for Hunt Farm, a large operation in Richfield Township, Michigan not far from Flint. Schaller knows a little bit about loss. Hunt Farm experienced a major fire March 10 just as they prepared for spring planting.
Schaller said he read about a couple who perished in one of the fires while trying to rescue livestock. A friend offered his truck to transport hay and Schaller made some calls to get hay donated. He also created a Go Fund Me page to raise money to help pay for the expense of getting the donated hay and supplies delivered.
“The farming community is a real tight bunch of people, and truckers are the same way,” Schaller told a film crew from Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Farm News. “As soon as I made that first call and the response I got, I knew it was going to be a big thing.”
Christy Balla-Gordon and her husband Rodney were on their way to Oklahoma from Croswell in the “thumb” area of southeast Michigan and checked in from the road Saturday afternoon. She saw Schaller’s post on Facebook and she and her husband decided to help out.
They farm some 1,200 acres, growing hay, wheat, soybeans and sugar beets. They also have a trucking company with which they haul their own commodities but also some lime and aggregate.
Several companies donated the use of their trucks to transport the hay and supplies. Michigan Farm Bureau Insurance donated funds to cover truckers’ fuel costs.
Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, international, humanitarian-relief organization based in Springfield, Missouri, is also responding to wildfires in the Great Plains.
Billy Gourley, a farmer from Crane, Missouri, donated the hay that the Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team last week delivered to a distribution site in Ashland, Kansas. The initial load contained nearly 50,000 pounds of hay that will be distributed to farmers.
“It’s your whole livelihood when you farm,” said Gourley. “I can’t think about what they’re going through. What I’m doing is just a small part.”
“Not only did the farmers lose their current stockpiles of hay,” said Stacy Lamb, U.S. response director. “They also lost the ability to bale any hay in the near future. That’s why this response is so important.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association created a resource for what is needed in each state.