Lodians step up efforts to help wildfire evacuees
People from all over Lodi are mobilizing their resources to help the fire victims in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties. Carloads of food and other supplies are being dropped off at locations around the city, and one winery stepped up to help an industry colleague in need of a place to crush grapes.
One man is getting ready to make the drive up to Santa Rosa to help a close friend sift through what’s left of their home, and to try to help start the long process of rebuilding their lives.
Soon after doors were opened Wednesday morning at Lodi Vines the first car pulled up with a trunk full of donations. Charley Hauner brought his daughter Bess, 9, to help unload the car. They brought baby formula, clothes, and children’s toys to donate. Hauner said he knows at least four people affected by the fire.
Wendy Woodruff, executive assistant at Grace and Mercy, was directing staff and volunteers to fill up two trucks with supplies gathered in its warehouse to be delivered to two different collection sites in Lodi.
Stacks of boxes of non-perishable food, along with personal hygiene items, along with disposable cups and toilet paper, quickly filled up the back of a pick-up truck.
“We’re just trying to donate what we can. We have to help when we can, that’s what we’re here for,” Woodruff said. Two volunteers then drove the donations to Jessie’s Grove Winery, one of several drop-off spots in town.
Marissa Lange, president of LangeTwins Family Winery, said she received a call early Monday from Francis Ford Coppola Winery winemaker Lise Asimont, who was in the middle of evacuating the Geyserville winery.
She needed grapes crushed, and LangeTwins Winery had an open tank available.
“We brought in several truckloads,” Lange said. ‘We will make it into wine under their protocol,” she said, adding that they will store it until the smoke clears and they can get back to thinking about business.
“We got a phone call from a friend, and we were happy to help out,” she said.
Lisa Lopes, event manager at m2 Wines, said she had felt a tugging at her heart to help since she heard about the fires. She put a call out that people could drop off donations at the Acampo winery, and donations soon started coming in.
She was also able to connect with a man in Elk Grove who had been making trips up to the affected area with donations, and he will be taking the donations she collects on daily trips to the area.
“It’s so sad, it could be any of us. If we all work together, we can do our part,” she said.
Jeff Johnston, a librarian
at Tokay High School, has a close friend whose family lost everything when their Santa Rosa home was destroyed.
“I am going to help out a friend, he said. “They got out with their clothes on their back, so they lost everything.”
He is planning on driving up on Friday with a car full of donations to do what he can to help his childhood friend and his family of four.
If they can get back into the area, the plan is to sift through the rubble for anything worth salvaging.
“We’re going to start the process to help them start rebuilding,” Johnston said.
He also helped start a GoFundMe page for the family for basic living costs as the family tries to figure out the next steps.
“He is a like brother to me,” Johnston said. “I have known him since I was a freshman in high school, I’ve known him for 35 years.”
“When a buddy is in need, you answer the call and do what you can do to help out,” he said simply.
Fire burns in the hills above Kenwood on Tuesday night.
Jessie’s Grove’s general manager Lisa Brand, wine club coordinator Tami Gampp, wine team manager Sarah Williams and Grace and Mercy volunteer Jimmy Geralisas stack donations from Grace and Mercy at Jessie’s Grove as Lodians donate food and other items for the victims of the Napa and Sonoma county fires in Lodi on Wednesday.
Charley Hauner and his daughter Bess Hauner, 9, drop off donations at Lodi Vines as Lodians donate food and other items for the victims of the Napa and Sonoma county fires in Lodi on Wednesday.