7/9/2013 6:01:00 AM Column: Over 30,000 pounds of food donated for Yarnell victims
Ted Lee of the Prescott Noon Lions, left, and Al Steinberg of the Chino Valley Noon Lions teamed up to load food and water into a trailer last Wednesday at Fry’s on Willow Creek Road, one of six collection sites utilized in the drive.
Jerry Jackson Courier columnist
On the morning after the unbelievably tragic Yarnell Hill wildfire that claimed the lives of 19 gallant Prescott firefighters and devastated the picturesque wooded town that is perched high above the desert floor, Prescott Noon Lion Paul Chastain received a call from the state Lions district governor, Carolyn White, regarding the Lions Clubs International Foundation's planned $10,000 award to help out in the crisis. "She asked me if we had anything else planned in Prescott regarding the Yarnell emergency," Chastain said. "I told her I would look into a possible food drive, and she approved of that."
So it was on that Monday, July 1, when Chastain led the charge by shifting into high gear immediately (time was a-wastin', you see, and 2nd or low gear wouldn't suffice), and with the help of fellow Noon Lions (notably Chuck Matthews, Buz Williams and Bill Parker, along with a host of more than 30 other fellow club members and other groups that included the Prescott Sunrise Lions, Prescott Evening Lions, Chino Valley Noon Lions, Prescott Noon Lionesses and the Young Marines), managed to put the drive in place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 3. A frantic but fulsome 48 hours it was, and the cooperation among managers at all six Prescott locations - both Fry's, both Safeways, Albertsons and Costco - was a joy to behold, according to Chastain.
The coordinated effort involved Tuesday's routinely emptying of the club's half-dozen trailers containing newspapers and magazines for recycling from the aforementioned locations and returning them the next morning - nice and spiffy - to make way for the foodstuffs. Also helping out in the effort were business managers in the area - including Mountain Ink in Prescott Valley, whose owner, Carla Durrance, donated the "Food for Yarnell" signs for all six locations, and U-Haul on Highway 69 in Prescott, whose manager and assistant manager - Micheal (cq) Elrod and Scott Cochrell, respectively, provided the use of their largest truck free of charge along with other needed incidentals.
And was the five-hour collection a success? Yes, indeed, as shoppers streaming in and out of the cooperating businesses opened their hearts and wallets to the fullest. Remember that mention of the 7,850 pounds of food collected in the earlier Noon Lions drive? Well, that was almost quadrupled, as over 30,000 pounds of food is going to Yarnell's citizens, along with $4,472 in cash donations that they can use for food, medication, blankets and clothing.
Those 30,000-plus pounds of food were transferred to the Yavapai Food Bank and stored in bins labeled "For Yarnell" and its executive director, Ann Wilson, notes that the food bank "has been providing food to the community of Yarnell for many years, and will continue to do so by distributing food to them as soon as they are in operation again and able to receive it. I was overwhelmed at the amount of food that came in," she added, "and of the support from the community. It is so great to live in an area where people care about each other with such a tremendous demonstration of love."
As yet another demonstration of generosity, Chastain noted that a local woman "took it upon herself to have 500 T-shirts printed memorializing the Granite Mountain Hotshots. She was selling them with 100 percent of the funds going to the citizens of Yarnell." However, "On July 3rd she learned that she had a family emergency in Iowa" at which time "she got hold of me for help. Our club responded again and helped sell the T-shirts, and another $7,500 was collected for the citizens of Yarnell. Our club was given the money to bring us a total of around $22,000 (including the $10,000 from Lions International) to give to the citizens of Yarnell. It has been a pretty good three days with the help of so many good-hearted citizens!"
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