Yooper workers in front of hay bales
YOOPER RELIEF: Seven tractor trailers traveled from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Oklahoma March 31 to provide feed and supplies to communities affected by wildfires. The Yooper Relief Convoy was started by Marty DeHann of Mass City and Jan Strieter of Lake Linden.

Brownie points toward heaven

Michigan farmers unite to provide relief to victims of wildfires.

My mother has always referred to extraordinary acts of kindness, done without any self-gain, as “Brownie points toward heaven.”

These acts are often difficult and require sacrifice, and are done without any expectations.

Still, there is a need to help with healing when others are hurting, and that’s exactly what many Michigan farmers, ag industry folks and others have been doing since wildfires swept through Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma in early March.

Within 20 days of the blaze that turned more than 1.5 million acres to dust, Michigan rural communities united to provide relief to those in need.

As you read in this issue, a steady flow of semi-tractor trailers, trucks and cars have been leaving the state loaded with hay, fencing materials, milk replacers and other supplies. It started with one convoy of 10 semis and has escalated into several more caravans and more than a hundred trucks. All equipment, resources and labor were donated. The return: Brownie points toward heaven.

Relief pouring in from across country
Nothing is easy about farm life: The risks are always present; the rewards are never promised. With the ag industry on a three-year slide, this outreach was certainly extraordinary, but not incredibly surprising. Farmers have been extending lifelines to those struggling for years, proving once again there is no greater pride than being a farmer. They know what it is like to suffer, through no fault of their own. It is through these trials that a deep-rooted empathy has been embedded. So when millions of acres in Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma were decimated by raging wildfires, these farmers and drivers were giving more than hay and supplies, they were giving back hope to those that lost animals, crops, homes, equipment, barns and even loved ones.

If you really want insight into the devastation, go online to its Go Fund Me page.

There, you will find an 11-minute video. It is graphic and heart-wrenching, but it’s the best depiction I’ve seen of the true devastation, which was largely overlooked by mainstream media.

You will also find an opportunity to contribute. Jamie Clover Adams, the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, with her husband, Lyle, set up the Go Fund Me page with a goal of $10,000. They started the campaign with a personal $500 contribution. Also, the five members of the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development also pledged personal funds to bring the initial donation to $1,000.

Additionally, Jamie and Lyle, who lived in Kansas for some time, pledged to match up to $3,000. At the time of this writing, it had already surpassed $7,000.

In addition to the Go Fund Me page, donations, cash or check, can be made at any Chemical Bank location across the state. Make checks payable to "Michigan Ag Community Wildfire Relief Fund." This account will be kept open, not just for this effort, but for any other future disasters.

In the video, you see and hear the emotional and financial toll this tragedy has inflicted. Despite the horrific situation, you also hear a story of hope.

Again, extraordinary, but not surprising.

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