A force for good
Baby Yoda may be most famous as a resident of a galaxy far, far away, but he's now supporting those on the frontlines of Oregon's wildfires.
After being donated to a supply drive for firefighters, the character from the Star Wars TV spinoff "The Mandalorian" is traveling to multiple wildfires across the state — including the 138,000 acre Riverside Fire near Estacada and Molalla.
Scappoose resident Tyler Eubanks coordinated a donation drive for firefighters after helping friends evacuate from Molalla, Colton and Estacada. Fellow Scappoose community member Sasha and her 5-year-old grandson, Carver, donated the Baby Yoda plush toy in case those on the frontlines needed some companionship.
"It was the last Baby Yoda doll (at the store), and Carver kept staring at it," Sasha said. "Something convinced me to pick that Yoda up."
Sasha attached a note from Carver, which said, "Thank you firefighters. Here is a friend in case you get lonely."
After delivering Baby Yoda to the firefighters in early September, Eubanks took took a picture to send Carver, and the photos have continued ever since.
Along with a trip to the Riverside Fire from Tuesday, Sept. 15, through Thursday, Sept. 17, the doll has also visited the Lionshead Fire near the the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation and the Holiday Farm Fire on the Willamette National Forest. He's been in photos with firefighters, medics, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and members of the Oregon National Guard, to name just a few.
A Facebook page, detailing Baby Yoda's adventures, created by Eubanks on Sept. 15, has more than 17,000 likes. His journey has been reported on by the Associated Press, the New York Post and multiple outlets around Oregon.
"It's something I never imagined," Eubanks said, discussing the project's popularity. "The first responders get really excited when they get their hands on him. It's almost like a competition for them to see who can get the most creative photos."
Eubanks attached her phone number to the young Yoda to help keep track of him, and his new friends send photos to be shared on his Facebook page.
"They request him all the time. He's constantly moving," she said.
Eubanks is grateful that the project highlights firefighters.
"We can put a face to who is out there working. It brings pride and thankfulness to see the faces of the people who are putting their lives on the line for us," she said.
Eubanks' favorite images of The Child came from the National Guard, who posed him using "the force," as well as a photo taken by a team of medics in which he's equipped with a lightsaber crafted from a glowstick.
Baby Yoda's next destination may be the Archie Creek Fire near Glide or a fire in Canada. Sasha didn't expect him to travel as far as he has but is happy about the journey he's on.
"We didn't think it would go further than bringing smiles to firefighters.The wildfires have caused so much tragic loss, but if we can bring light and joy to anyone who needs a lift right now, that's our goal," she said. "Everyone needs a friend."
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Eubanks asked readers of the Facebook page what Baby Yoda's journey meant to them. Within several hours, the post had amassed nearly 300 comments.
"I think Carver deserves a giant hug for his thoughtfulness and caring. I love following Baby Yoda and seeing the joy and smiles he brings to everyone. In our world today, this young man gave us something to smile about," one person wrote.
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