March and April brought unexpected cold temperatures and late snow storms. The COVID pandemic forced people to shelter at home and lead to many becoming unemployed and struggling to keep warm. However, for one Amador County community group it flooded their phone line with desperate cries for help. The Wood Angels, a non profit who give free firewood to Veterans, low income elderly and the disabled had some hard decisions to make in midst of the pandemic.
They were wrapping up the winter season of deliveries and about out of wood. They were also preparing for their first annual fundraiser to buy a commercial log splitter before summer.
CEO Ryan Gillaspie said, “Giving up was not an option, it was time for Essential Volunteers to defy the odds and heat homes in Amador County.” The Wood Angels plowed out their yard, cut more wood and headed out the gate in 4 wheel drive to deliver wood to those in need. They finished strong breaking old records and pumping out approximately 325 cords of wood for the season.
Just as they hit a high point they had to cancel their fundraiser due to the pandemic. Gillaspie said this was devastating news because the dinner was the only opportunity to raise $12,000 for a commercial log splitter needed by summer. According to Gillaspie, the organization is funded by community donations and takes in barely enough money to pay for fuel, repairs and insurance but never new equipment. We were not ready to give up and took to social media and contacted local organizations requesting help.
They met their goal this week thanks to Amador County citizens and major contributors like the National Hotel, American Legion and Top Cop. The Wood Angels are humbled by the community response.
Others in the community came forward to help the Wood Angels prepare for the busy season as well. Watson Industries brought their equipment and crew in and cleared the back two acres of their wood yard to store more wood. The Central Calaveras Fire District and the Central Calaveras Fire Safety Elves have loaned out their wood processor to the Wood Angels. According to Gillaspie, the processor can do in a week what takes them months to produce.
The Wood Angels say their major shortfall, is finding volunteers. A few hours a week cutting and or splitting makes a big difference. The shortage in manpower is forcing the Wood Angels to go mechanized which is a costly. To make a donation or volunteer go to woodangels.org.