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Love And Help For Victims Of California Fires

To the Editor –

My name Lesley Linhares and I am a 34-year-old disabled lifetime resident of this area and single mother of 4, but raising 6 kids between the ages of 7 and 11. I have been working as a daycare provider and consultant for Jamberry the past several years.

But when the big fires hit California this summer I was moved to contribute financially, so I did. But then… Seems half of the great State of California started burning to the ground this month! Moved doesn’t even compare to the emotions I’ve felt seeing the massive devastation and heartbreak of the Valley, Butte and Rough fires. So I prayed and prayed and asked God what I should do to contribute this time. I asked God to use me for good and support during this crisis and for the opportunity and strength to sweep over me… AND IT DID!

So last Monday, I started what is now known as the Oakhurst Area Fire Relief Collection Center for CA Displaced Families.

Support is EXPLODING! I already have a large pickup truck size worth of donations and a perfect variety of items! With only what I have on hand right now, we will be able to completely accommodate up to 25 people with clothes, toiletries, medical supplies, linens, food, water, books, stuffed animals for the kids and other little “fun stuff” items. We are calling them Angel Packs. We just need more plastic storage bins, large boxes and travel bags and these Angel Packs are ready to go!

And I am so grateful! Within only MINUTES I started getting messages and offers of support!

Ron Fishermen immediately donated use of his 14-foot enclosed U-haul trailer!

Chris Henningfeld has signed up to be next Sunday’s delivery driver and offered his trailer as a back up.

Tim Addison has volunteered to be the delivery driver for me on my first trip down this coming Sunday.

Brenna Rodriguez and Stephine Bullock just dropped off a ton of water bottles, jackets, books and clothes.

Stacey Roy and Donna Hunter are coming tomorrow to help me organize and box up the donations I’ve already received.

Kimberly Doyal and Morgan Ney have already contributed towards fuel expenses.

In addition to the Angel Packs, I am receiving contributions from the Oakhurst SDA church, Oakhurst Feed and Supply. Steves Tropical Fish and Pet Supply store is making multiple donations of dog and cat food as well as some basic pet supplies this week and next.

Sam at Oakhurst Quick Serve across from McDonald’s is currently gathering supplies for us, employees at the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department and Fresno County Social Services Department are supporting us and working hard to spread the word and send donations our way.

My Church, SDA Church on Road 426, is greatly supporting me in this endeavor and my pastor Daniel Morea is mentoring me in large scale emergency support operations.

I made my first delivery yesterday (Sunday). What an adventure! So exhausted but can’t wait to go again! Wonderful people we are helping up there, and they are volunteering! I’ll be going back next Sunday and every following Sunday as long as there is a need.

We ended up going to the Mountain Ranch community shelter next to Angels Camp and the fire camp near there to drop off. When the volunteer running the shelter saw all of the tents that Sandy and the other stylists at Hairway 41 purchased for the shelter, she welled up with tears and hugged me saying how much the donation meant to all of these families that had been having to sleep on the ground. I didn’t catch Sandy’s last name, but she knows who she is and the other women and the clients who helped her purchase these brand new tents. I want them to know that they definitely changed lives with their contribution! There is no greater love!

I am asking my contributors to also send a hand written letters introducing themselves and talking about why they are donating, and even put their family picture with it in an unsealed envelope and a few extra envelopes and stamps. Crisis victims love to be able to put a face to those who have such great impact on their lives and recovery. It makes them “real.”

At first a lot of people think that they can’t afford to help as they don’t have a mass amount of extra supplies like this or large amounts of money. But that is far from the truth! You see, I’m having a few hundred people donate just 1-6 good quality items is so much better and larger in scale then 20 people giving large amounts of junky stuff or 100 of the same item. $1 or one blanket if given on a community scale generates thousands of fillers and truck after truck after truck of supplies!

So if people can choose just 1-6 of the items on the lists below, WONDERFUL! If they happen to be in a place where they can contribute more, well that’s even better. All donations large or small are greatly appreciated!

Once people understand that I’m not just after their money like most other sites and I am simply collecting the much-needed SUPPLIES that I will be personally hand-deliver ring directly to five emergency shelters in Middletown, they become much more eager to get involved. The only cash donation that I am personally accepting is simply to cover the fuel and travel expenses of my transport drivers. It is a 10-hour round-trip drive time and depending on the weight of the truck and the trailers it’s estimated fuel cost is $60-$100 per trip.

In addition to transporting the Angel Packs and supplies, after delivery has been made, myself and my drive, will be assisting in the distribution of the items, helping to build the temporary fences people need for their animals and any other help that they need. We want to make the most of each trip. We are there to help!

Then when we leave, we are in contact with the R Ranch that have so generously donated all of its vacation cabins to the fire victims to stay in and have room to shelter 100 horses. We will be providing transportation to the ranch from the shelter overflow population as much as it is safe.

I would love it if anybody from the area that has a horse trailer to caravan down there with us to help with the transportation of all of these people and their poor horses. Even those whose cars weren’t burned up in the fire are refusing to transfer to other shelter without their horses. The love and friendship they have with their animals is no different then the love we have for our own children. The owners would rather sleep out on the dirt with their animals then abandon them even for a couple of days for a nice warm bed.

We are getting daily updates from our contact at the SDA Church in Middletown (which survived the fire and is still standing!) on the exact immediate need of the people staying at the 5 emergency shelters they have set up. Sadly, the overflow is so great there are still many many people sleeping in the DIRT with only the clothes on their backs and donated clothes as “covers.” This deeply impacts me and convicts my heart to do all that I possibly can to get these thousands and thousands of people everything they need right now and for the subsequent few years. And I’m so grateful the Lord has blessed me with the opportunity and the strength to be so directly involved with this project!

As of 9 a.m. this morning, here is the list from Middletown SDA Church:

Due to sites being overwhelmed with communication, our goal is to make it easy for them to do what they do best. Here is what they told us they need today.

Cots, Plastic tubs

water (bottles, gallons), batteries D (12), flashlights (6), air mattresses/pumps (12), salvation army provided canteen, brushes (12), utensils (2 boxes) , tarps (12 – 8×12)

laundry soap, bleach, underwear and socks (100), shaving cream, D batteries (48), C batteries (48) — led lights?

Boxes, Gallon Ziploc, Reusable Shopping bags, Storage tubs, New socks and underwear, Dog and Cat crates, can openers, Stand alone storage shelves, Shampoo, deodorant, Back Packs, School Supplies, Basic First id, Towels, Washclothes, Cat Litter, Sturdy Rubber bands

Other nearby locations also need:

Feed for all types of animals, temporary fencing supplies, TENTS OF ALL SIZES big-time, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, pillowcases, and air mattress with a manual air pump, all kinds of batteries and battery operated alarm clocks and radios, duct tape, trash bags portable plastic storage bins or large travel bags for what few belonging they do have now… DIABETIC TEST STRIPS, Tylenol, band aids and other medical supplies, tarps or very clean like new area rugs, camping chairs, small ice chests, notebooks with pens, small clothing repair kits, canopies, duct tape, plastic storage bins with snap on lids, shelf stable food, hard candy and WATER, lots of it!! The volunteers at the shelters say “think camping supplies” and bring that.

The 3,000+ fire fighters need:

New pillows and travel sized only floss, foot powder, deodorant and lotion/Vaseline. Food, water, Chapstick, baby wipes, pocket tissues.

And in order for me to be able to make all of this possible, I need more volunteers for future deliveries, more distribution supplies such as clean and dry boxes, packing tape, Ziploc bags and permanent markers. We need small cash contributions to cover fuel and travel expenses, water bottles, Gatorade’s, and travel food for my delivery volunteers.

People can reach me at (559) 760-7510 with any questions, donation collection arrangements and the much needed driver volunteers and accommodations!

Thanks you!

Lesley Linhares

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