It could be said that the community of Oakdale has long arms when it comes to reaching out to help those in need. Known as a community that rallies to help its own when the need arises, the most recent fires in Sonoma, Solano and Napa counties have proven yet again Oakdale is a small town with big heart.
Early last Friday a 30 foot trailer filled with needs and supplies, departed the 95361 headed to Solano County and then on to Santa Rosa, thanks to the efforts of Wade Bradshaw and Kyle Avilla.
Business owners Brian and Alison Huberty of CrossFit Oakdale also began a grassroots collection of toiletries/hygiene items, clothing and bedding which was taken to Sonoma County by former CrossFit Coach Micayla Lowe.
Lowe, a student at Sonoma State, had returned home to Oakdale to get away from the smoke. She and her boyfriend, Dustin, are volunteers at an area high school and delivered the business donations.
“It is so hard to see pictures of something devastating that is so close to you,” Alison Huberty said. “Many of our members have family and friends out there who have lost everything. As a small business owner, I like to think we can have some reach to our community or communities beyond us in need.”
This past Sunday, a convoy of trucks and trailers loaded with donations of blankets, clothing, waters, food, toiletries, face masks and additional items made its way to the Sonoma County area. Another convoy will travel back this Sunday, Oct. 22.
“It started off with Jordan Sluggett,” Jo Harris said of her team’s involvement in collecting donations, noting that Sluggett began his campaign with a Facebook post last Wednesday.
“His family members were evacuated from there and he has family members who lost everything,” Harris stated.
Harris, along with Sluggett, Hector Padilla and Darren Nunes got to work soliciting donations via Social Media with lists of needs and wants, which had been given to them by varying relief centers in the area of the devastation.
“I just can’t believe how much we received for such a small town,” Harris said of the response by the community.
The scenes Harris described from the team’s visit to Santa Rosa are not dissimilar from those seen on the evening news or via Social Media. The one difference, however, came standing in the presence of what is now real for tens of thousands of people.
“It was like a war zone,” she said of their drive through a town which was once filled with strip malls and housing developments. “This was like Armageddon.
“There’s nothing. You’d randomly see a burned out car,” she continued, “but most things you couldn’t identify.”
The people, however, the gratitude and the stories are what the Oakdale community members were touched by most. As they stopped for a bite to eat, prior to returning to the Valley, the question was posed amongst the group, “Same time next Sunday?”
“There’s a lot that needs to be done. It’s unfinished,” Harris said of their decision to put out an item-specific list and return on Oct. 22. “I know Oakdale has more to give. This could be any one of us. It’s not fixed in one trip.”
A complete list of items needed can be found publicly on Jo Harris’ Facebook page. The list includes: baby wipes, sleeping bags, plastic service ware, coats, backpacks and school supplies, as children will be returning to school and have nothing. No clothing is being requested at this time, other than coats, packaged underwear of all sizes and socks. Gift cards for gas stations, local grocery stores, or stores such as Target or Kohl’s would be greatly appreciated.
“I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time and energy to donate and help out these families in need,” Sluggett said. “Love, kindness and selflessness are all characteristics of what makes Oakdale and the surrounding areas so great.
“I am grateful for being able to be in a position to where I can be the mediator to get supplies to those in need and will continue to do so as much as possible,” he continued. “Be humble for the life you live because you never know when it could all change.”
Donations for the team leaving Sunday, may be left at Plaza 131, on South Second Avenue, Oakdale. Persons may also text or call Harris at (209) 409-4335. Huberty noted they will also continue to accept donations for any community members wishing to drop off for delivery to Sonoma County.