Relief for Oso: Valley comes together to help massive mudslide’s victims

North Bend Elementary pupil Hunter Caple starts a coin drive for Oso victims. - Courtesy photo
North Bend Elementary pupil Hunter Caple starts a coin drive for Oso victims.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Child fundraisers and adult volunteers in the Valley are trying to help victims of the Oso mudslide in Snohomish County.

At least 27 have died and 22 people are still believed missing following the slide, which happened at 10:37 a.m. on Saturday, March 22. A hillside above a neighborhood about four miles east of the town gave way, burying 50 properties over a square mile in earth and debris.

As rescuers dug for survivors in Oso, the effort drew national attention and local compassion.

Carnation donation

On Friday, March 28, Carnation Market started its effort, called Arms Around Oso, to help with the situation in Snohomish county.

Market owner Ally Hayton said she got the idea from the locations of the other groceries her family owns.

“Mount Vernon is just north of (the mudslide) and Carnation is just south, and both of those communities are affected by this,” she said. “We’ve just had so many people saying ‘oh, I want to help, what can we do?”… so we thought, ‘Let’s wrap our arms around Oso!’”

“So, every customer that comes to the store, we’re asking them to round up their purchase,” she continued, “and we’re donating that amount to help.” As the small change adds up, the store will also provide a case of bottled water for every $100 in donations to the search and rescue efforts.

“You can never have enough bottled water,” said Hayton.

Their Mount Vernon store is in the midst of a different fundraiser, she said, but staff pitched in to help feed searchers earlier this week when Mount Vernon-based Draper Valley Farms donated a large quantity of chickens to the effort. Since the farm had no facility to cook them, it asked the store for help, and they were glad to help out, Hayton said.

Arms Around Oso started Friday at the Carnation Market, and will continue “as long as there are still volunteers out there helping,” Hayton said.

She also plans for the Carnation Market to host a drop-site, for people to donate goods for the rescue effort and for the victims.

Radio help at Oso

Brian Kassa and Richard Smith, two volunteers with the Snoqualmie Emergency Communications and Support Team, SECAST, traveled north to help with the search effort during the past week.

Kassa and Smith took the city Emergency Management Department’s communications van, providing ground support for the King County Sheriff’s Department’s Guardian 1 helicopter. They helped the helicopter use its thermal imaging camera to look for victims, and helped set up the helipad needed for landing and refueling. They worked in Snohomish County for a full day, last Tuesday, March 24, also returned over the weekend.

Kassa and Smith are part of the regular volunteer air support team for Guardian 1, and were asked to help as part of King County’s contribution to the rescue effort.

“They asked, and we provided,” said Snoqualmie Police Sgt. Bob Keeton, a spokesman for SECAST. “Every little bit helps.”

The SECAST van, well equipped with radio gear, was a big help, Keeton said.

SECAST is part of a non-profit group originated to provide volunteer emergency workers to the city of Snoqualmie and the surrounding region. You can learn more about the team or by calling (425) 888-3333.

Horse feeders

At Misty Morning Ranch in Carnation, owner and 4-H Club leader Jessica Wood is stockpiling feed for the equine victims of the Oso disaster. The 15 girls that Wood mentors in the Fall City Flames club met on Wednesday, March 26, at Fall City Library. Then and there, they decided to gather grain, hay and money for equine stewardship organizations in Snohomish County who are caring for lost horses rescued following the mudslide.

The Fall City Flames 4-H club is a group of girls that love and want to learn about horses. They live in North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Issaquah and Kirkland.

When several of the girls learned, via Facebook, that horses in Oso needed help, they had to act.

“I was happy that they had the initiative to bring it up themselves,” Wood said. “We have a good group of kids, and they’re always wanting to help.” To make a donation, contact the Fall City Flames and Wood at (423) 215-3427.

School change jars

One of the girls who proposed the Fall City Flames donation was Jordan Caple of North Bend, whose family got involved in efforts to help Oso victims.

Her younger brother, Hunter, a student at North Bend Elementary, was watching television with mom Stacey, when both were choked up, learning about the young victims of the disaster.

Hunter asked to take the family’s “fun jar,” which normally slowly fills to fund family activities, and donate it for a school fundraiser effort.

At school, Hunter’s jar and its $75 worth of loose change, went to the cause, forming the start of a school-wide change drive.

Inspired by her brother, Jordan wanted to do something, too, and so did a lot of her fellow Flame club members.

“They’re a small group, but a mighty group,” said Stacey Coombs. “Everybody is pulling together.”

Touched by her children’s efforts, “I’m a proud mom,” Coombs added.

Other school children are doing the same. At Twin Falls Middle School, the student Key Club was inspired by the speakers at WE Day and wanted to make a difference in society. They dove into preparations for a lunch-time fundraiser, planned for this week, to raise money for the Snohomish County Search and Rescue.

Cascade View Elementary School is also collecting coins and cash for the Oso community. Students can bring money in next week, March 31 to April 4, and staff will collect, count and organize the money contributed. All proceeds will go to the Red Cross relief fund for the community.



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