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Co-op Teams Up to Support Firefighters and Farmers in Eastern Washington

As a horse lover, Aria Reed Cissney found certain images from the Okanogan complex fire indelible. “People were frantically spray painting their horses in hopes that they would be able to find them later because they had to turn them loose,”she says. “They were painting their livestock’s hooves. One guy had three horses tied to his truck and he was driving at their pace because he had no trailer to get them out of there. It hit home for me.”
As of Sunday, September 6th, the fire has burned more than 232 square miles and destroyed 123 homes. Currently it is 65% contained, but as the Co-op’s Florence Vincent points out, “There’s still danger and animals continue to get away from their homes. Firefighters are still there working under tremendous pressure.”
Aria and Florence have teamed up to make a difference for both people and animals impacted by the largest wildfire in state history. For the next several weeks, Florence will use all money donated through the Co-op to purchase supplies like dog and cat food for animals and protein bars and drinks for firefighters at wholesale prices, at no profit to the store. “The main thing they’re asking for is trail bars and gatorade,” says Florence. “We don’t have gatorade, but we have a healthier version of it that we can send.”
Aria first got involved through her friend Crystal Carlson, a member of the Stewart family of Stewart’s Meats. “She decided she couldn’t just stand by and was going to donate eight tons of hay,” says Aria. “We helped her load up a flatbed and after that I thought, ‘We’re not too far away to make a difference.’” Crystal has since made several trips over the mountains, and will provide transportation for all items donated through the Co-op.
Both emphasize that you don’t have to donate a lot of money to make a difference. “I wanted to donate, but I figured out that if I donate through the Co-op, my money will go further because we can get things wholesale,” says Florence.  Aria believes in the power of collective action. “Even if you don’t feel like you have a lot, every bit makes a difference,” she says. “If we all get together we can make something amazing.”

If you would like to donate, visit the Yelm Food Co-op at 308 E. Yelm Ave. If you would like to donate hay or feed for livestock, contact Aria Reed Cissney at 360.259.4747 or  

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