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Santiam Canyon Tool Library hopes to help people rebuild after fire

The Santiam Canyon Tool Library allows people to check out tools then return them for others to use.

GATES, Ore. — In the Santiam Canyon, people are slowly trying to recover after historic Oregon fires burned down homes six months ago. Now, there’s a resource in the canyon to help people get the tools they need to rebuild.

It’s called the Santiam Canyon Tool Library and the idea is exactly like it sounds: You check out a tool you need, then bring it back for someone else to use. The service is free.

Drive by the Gates Community Church of Christ and you’ll see an orange shipping container.

“People see this container and they don’t really know what it is,” said Melodie Roth, one of the people who set up the library.

“We came up with the idea about the week of the fires,” said Shawn Drake, who has been working with Roth to make the Santiam Canyon Tool Library a reality.

It took a little while to get it up and running, but it’s now been open for just over a month.

Credit: Christine Pitawanich/KGW
Santiam Canyon Tool Library

“We got the container donated, the lights got donated, the sign got donated. All the tools have been donated,” said Drake.

There are about 125 different tools that can be loaned out, which include tools like rakes, all kinds of saws, and complete toolsets.

“Sometimes you might need a tool just for one time for one thing and rather than have to purchase that really expensive tool, you can come here and borrow it,” Roth said.

The process is easy. Roth said to become a member, a person just has to fill out an application and bring a picture ID with them.

Right now they’re working to get inventory posted to the Santiam Canyon Tool Library website and trying to spread the word that the tools are available for anyone who needs them.

Credit: Christine Pitawanich/KGW
Santiam Canyon Tool Library

They also need volunteers to help staff the tool library. At this point, it’s only open one day a week with limited hours.

“And that’s been a problem. I work in Salem so I come up on Sundays,” said Drake.

But both Drake and Roth, and Drake's daughter Stephanie who helps out, are all committed to making it work.

“We want to see this as an ongoing resource for the community,” Roth said.

Credit: Christine Pitawanich/KGW
Stephanie Drake, Melodie Roth, Shawn Drake in front of the Santiam Canyon Tool Library

Roth said they’re working on getting their nonprofit status but are currently affiliated with the church, which is a nonprofit. So, any donations are tax-deductible.

Eventually, Roth and Drake hope to hand the tool library off to a person or organization in the community to manage.

You can learn more by visiting the Santiam Canyon Tool Library on Facebook.