Ohio farmers caravan to Kansas to bring relief to wildfire victims

At least a hundred farmers and supporters gathered at the last rest area on I-70 West before the Indiana state line to caravan across the country Friday morning. The rest area was the designated rendezvous place before Ohio farmers took supplies to victims of wildfires that continue to wreak havoc on the western plains.

Parts of Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas have seen hundreds of thousands of acres scorched this month. The loss in livestock, land and property is staggering and Ohio farmers are traveling to Kansas to help.

“You just feel for them so much,” said Jana Caudill of Champaign County, who was heading across the country with 11-year-old son Jace and cousin Brendan Bayliss of Logan County. “We want to give them whatever relief we can. The tables will turn (someday).”

At least 15 trailers heavy with hay, several semis, cars and trucks loaded with feed, fencing materials, milk replacers and other supplies came together quickly, thanks in large part to the efforts of Rose and Greg Hartschuh of Crawford County who organized the effort largely through the use of social media.

FFA chapters from Valley View and Twin Valley South high schools made snack packs for the drivers to take on their journey along with collecting other donations such as water and safety glasses.

Sarah Birtch from Duma Meats in Mogadore said her company had posted a Facebook Live video of the effort and that, coupled with coverage from a Cleveland television station, caused donations from customers to pour in – everything from cash to Pedialyte. On Friday morning, she was handing out money to drivers to help cover the cost of their fuel. Farm Bureau member benefits partner Grainger also donated 100 dust masks for volunteers.

“People were just flying to our place and donations are still coming,” she said. “Everybody wants to help. Look at this, it’s wonderful.”

Follow the group via Facebook. Ohio’s Country Journal Editor Matt Reese is accompanying the group and will be reporting throughout the trip.

Caption: Luke Dull of Montgomery County secures the farmers helping farmers sign on the back of his hay load.