Kirklanders do their part to help families of Kittitas fire
By RAECHEL DAWSON
Kirkland Reporter Reporter
August 22, 2012 · Updated 1:07 PM
Kirkland resident Ameeta Chainani organized it. Her son helped with transportation and their church provided a location. But Chainani will tell you that it’s the people of Kirkland who filled the trucks with donations to families of the Kittitas County fire.
Chainani was watching the news on Aug. 13 when she was moved by the coverage of the devistation. So much, that she organized donations of food, water, toiletries, clothing - you name it - to be transported to Ellensburg.
The Taylor Bridge fire east of Cle Elum reportedly destroyed more than 60 homes and scorched just over 23,000 acres as of Monday. People from all over the state have donated to the families who lost nearly everything in the fire.
Chainani said she doesn’t have a lot of money or necessarily a lot of time, but because of the fire’s proximity, just over 100 miles away, she felt like she could make a difference, even if it was small.
“I felt I had to do something to help,” she said.
Chainani promoted donations through Facebook with the help from her son Karan Chainani. She wrote to her favorite radio station of 15 years, Warm 106.9 FM, she called hotels and emails were sent out to all of her contacts, asking for “forwards.” The word spread.
“Everybody did their part,” she said.
But then she realized she needed a location for people to drop off the donations. She contacted her pastor, Kenneth Moland, and he agreed Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Kirkland would be the appropriate location.
In two days, Chainani said, there were many donations.
“We didn’t know where the donations were coming from,” she said.
Duane Leach, trustee of the church, said there’s been a “wonderful response.”
“Kirkland should be proud of itself, especially Kingsgate,” he said.
And by Wednesday night, Chainani loaded up her minivan and drove with her daughter to the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce to drop off the goods, but realized it wasn’t the most efficient way to transport donations across that distance. Not all of the donations could make it in one trip.
Chainani made calls to local businesses asking if they could loan her a larger truck but got rejected based on insurance issues.
But Acura of Bellevue saved the day.
Chainani’s son, Karan, asked his general manager, who called the owner who donated a gassed-up moving van for the trip.
With the moving van, she was able to make one trip to Community Closet, an Ellensburg drop-off site and thrift store.
“It’s not over, but we’re winding down on ‘goods’ donations,” Chainani said.
Kallee Knudson, who works at the Community Closet, agrees.
“Right now, we have a warehouse full of stuff that we are organizing,” said Knudson. “People need financial donations, gift certificates and, most likely, cleaning supplies.”
Knudson said many of the homes that are still standing have been smoke filled, hence the need for cleaning supplies.
Chainani said she has received $1,500 from her church and other organizations and wants people to know they are only accepting cash donations at this time.
Leach said he hopes the church can raise $5,000 for the relief.
Monetary donations are accepted at RedCross.org and United Way of Central Washington, among others. The Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce asks that checks specify “Taylor Bridge Fire.”
Contact Kirkland Reporter Reporter Raechel Dawson at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 X5052.