Last year we were invited to be a part of the Boise Burn Out fund's annual Light My Fire event. It was the day we moved home, which made it even more special to us. We participated in a video for them about how important the Burn Out fund was to us. I'm not sure how articulate I was at the time, but I have now had lots of time to reflect on the significance of the burn out fund.
One of the first people we spoke to after the fire was Charlie Ruffing, a fireman who took up this project several years ago and has become the fund's chief go-to guy. We didn't know it at the time, but we would come to rely on Charlie to help us through this time. I don't think Charlie knew it either, and having spoken with him several times, I'm not sure that the emotional side of things is where he expected to find himself!
The Burn Out fund organized several events to raise money for the Oregon Trail fire. Part of the money went to their general fund and part of it to the families. The immediate impact of their donations allowed us to get some necessities while we waited for the insurance advance (dealing with insurance is a whole different topic!). It also was crucial in our ability to eat. We were living in a hotel. We had no pots and pans, no real kitchen (though our hotel did have a kitchenette). We were on the go ALL day meeting with contractors, insurance inspectors, demolition crews, city officials, neighbors, friends. We were at the store trying to figure out what we NEEDED (toothbrush, brush, deodorant, a couple shirts, underwear, a clean pair of pants). The burn out fund donations were also useful in allowing us to do our own clean up. We wanted to sift through our belongings, not have some crew do it. And we had many volunteers show up to help (so many, in fact, that we got done in a one day by mid-afternoon). We needed supplies to help protect those that came. We bought masks and gloves. We also needed tubs to put salvageable items in... tubs that are still in my garage without much use given their ashy condition.
The burn out fund also held a community garage sale, and we were able to sort through donated items. We were able to furnish our rental through the generosity of others and the foresight of these incredible firemen.
Beyond the financial assistance, Charlie Ruffing's presence in our life, through phone calls and visits, was probably one of the best things they could have ever given us. I know that most of the families who get assistance through the fund do not see the firemen week in and week out. But we did. And it was reassuring to know that people still cared, that they hadn't forgotten.
Boise's Light My Fire fundraiser is February 6 at the Doubletree hotel in Downtown Boise. It includes dinner and a silent auction. Please consider attending this event. I believe in donating locally, and this organization is very much needed and very much appreciated. You can RSVP here.