Columbia County charity follows in wake of California fires
Michelle Moseley's house in St. Helens is crowded with cardboard boxes and plastic bags of donated items.
While going over a list of the items Moseley has received on Wednesday afternoon, her cell phone rings. It's a friend trying to coordinate plans to deliver more donations in the afternoon, including several bicycles.
All of the items will be loaded into a rental truck as Moseley sets out to deliver the supplies to a church in California this weekend.
As a wildfire in California rages, Columbia County residents are doing what they can to help families displaced and severely affected by a blaze that has engulfed more than 140,000 acres and killed 56 people so far. When the Camp Fire broke out in Northern California late last week, the devastation of the blaze hit close to home for some — and they wanted to help.
Moseley, a mother of two who lives with her husband and their Chihuahua in St. Helens, has a lot of family members who live in Northern California.
"I was helping a family friend look up road closures online," Moseley explained, as cell phone service and Internet has been spotty, "And that got me thinking what can I do to help."
Moseley's aunt and several of her cousins live in Oroville, a small town about 20 miles south of Paradise that was forced to evacuate in advance of the Camp Fire. She had been in touch with family friends at the time and said her heart simply went out to those experiencing the devastating effects of the fire.
In the days after the fire broke out, Moseley put out a call on social media to collect donations. Community members have been donating items like food, blankets, clothes, pet food and toys directly to Moseley who is planning to personally deliver the items to California this weekend. She is coordinating with her uncle and the Chico Community Church to determine some of the most immediate needs of those seeking assistance.
Moseley's eight-year-old daughter, Macie, also suggested collecting stuffed animals and toys at McBride Elementary School to give to children who lost everything in the fire.
While making fiscal donations to recognized and established charities and aid organizations is a good thing to do, Moseley said she wanted to be able to provide hands-on help. Putting herself in the shoes of those affected by the fire really drove home the impact, she explained.
"I can't imagine it. It would be like if we all got up to go to work and then, by dinner, the entire town was gone," Moseley said. "And that's what happened to these people."
Ashely Fernandez, a Scappoose resident, also mentioned online that her brother and niece were affected by the fire and lost their home and all of their belongings. Fernandez shared a link to a family fundraiser page on social media.
Moseley has also set up a GoFundMe account and Facebook page, under the name "Oregon Helping Campfire Victims," with a $5,000 goal to help cover expenses of her drive to aid the California fire victims. Money collected above projected expenses of $360 is slated to go toward the purchase of additional supplies, she notes on the fundraising page. As of Thursday morning no donations had been filed on the GoFundMe page.