For the first time, Redwood Tall Outfitters is honored to participate in Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving held by businesses all around the world.
This year at Redwood Tall Outfitters, we're excited to take 10% of our profits during Giving Tuesday and donate it to a nonprofit organization we believe is making real, impactful change in the world today. This year, we are honored to support the Wildland Firefighters Foundation.
We dove into the story behind the Wildland Firefighters Foundation and gathered what we believe are the reasons this nonprofit truly is doing something big. Read on to learn more about the WF Foundation and why we love supporting America's heroes.
In July, 1994, a fire started near Glenwood Springs in the Colorado Rockies.
At the first sign of danger, a hotshot crew was assigned to the fire and dispatched. Hotshots are known for being the most experienced wildland firefighters in the field. They are the first on scene, the last to leave, the ones with the longest shifts, and the go-to crew for any wildfire.
When the hotshots arrived at the South Canyon fire, it looked tame and manageable. They started picking a line across the ridge to contain the fire, which hadn't grown too big yet.
The hotshot team was separated on the ridge in order to manage two different areas of the fire. As they separated ways, one half of the team began to notice the threatening winds picking up around them.
Suddenly, what was once safe territory to manage a forest fire became a danger zone. A 200- or 300-foot wall of flame rose up on the right side of the hotshots, driving them down the mountain and away from the rest of their team.
A handful of those firefighters made it down the ridge and scrambled to safety on I-70. But the rest didn't escape in time. They were found later at the top of the ridge, 14 elite firefighters in total. 14 fallen heroes.
Up in Idaho, Vicki Minor heard of the tragic news about the South Canyon Fire in Colorado.
She knew she needed to help the families of those 14 fallen firefighters. She started a fundraiser, selling t-shirts and sending every penny she earned to help those 14 families. By the end of the fundraiser, her and her son Burk Minor raised over $100,000.
Vicki sent the money straight to a nonprofit on the East Coast. A year later, she contacted the families to see how the money had helped. It turned out, not one of the families grieving the loss of their loved ones received a dollar.
Frustrated with the dishonesty of the nonprofit, Vicki decided to start her own nonprofit. And so the Wildland Firefighters Foundation was born in Vicki's kitchen shortly after the South Canyon Fire tragedy.
Wildland Firefighters are a different breed of firefighter altogether.
Instead of containing fires in buildings, they tackle fires in forests and grasslands. Some of them, called smokejumpers, parachute straight into the fire where trucks can't reach. Some hike up into the terrain to fight fires alone, carrying over 100 pounds of equipment as they go.
Being a wildland firefighter is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. 127 firefighters have already passed away in 2021. Most firefighters are the breadwinners of their families, so when a firefighter passes away, so does their family's steady income and stability.
That's where Vicki and the WF Foundation come in.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, while they can't bring back the father, husband, brother, or son they lost, aims at making sure that family's needs are met after tragedy.
Burk Minor, Vicki's son and director of the WF Foundation, says the aim of their nonprofit is to help families of injured or fallen wildland firefighters. Even though the paychecks stop coming and the firefighter never comes home, the groceries still come in, the rent still gets paid, and the family is still taken care of as they grieve.
Vicki even shared how they don't take government funding because much of what they do at the WF Foundation comes from the heart.
One mother grieving the loss of her son mentioned to Vicki how hard it was to get rid of his old t-shirts. It was too painful to send them to Goodwill, so Vicki took them and turned them into a blanket their family treasures dearly now. "Government funding doesn't cover the stuff that comes from the heart," she said.
The Wildland Firefighters Foundation has helped hundreds of families as they navigate life after the death or injury of a loved one. They've been the first people to bear tragic news to families. They've comforted them and cried with them.
They've put up memorials for fallen wildland firefighters in Idaho. If Vicki hadn't built that memorial, no memorial for those fallen heroes would exist today.
They've cooked meals, shown up with coffee in the morning unasked, done laundry, and honored fallen heroes in every way they can.
Finding a picture of Vicki Minor was surprisingly difficult, but as we searched we discovered something that touched our hearts.
When you look up Vicki's name on the internet, you won't find all the recognition she's received or her being presented awards. You won't even find the families she's helped or the nonprofit she started.
What you will find is countless pictures of handwritten letters from the families she's helped.
We're honored to support a nonprofit who's mission isn't growth, fame, or even funding, but genuine, down-to-earth help for families in need. It's the least we can do to say thank you to all the heroes who protect America's mountains, fields, valleys, and homes.
The WF Foundation also takes individual donations and sells shirts and more on their website. Every dollar you spend goes directly to supporting the families of fallen and injured heroes. Donate here.
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