PORTLAND, Ore. — Many people are looking for ways to help the victims of the California wildfires. A small business owner in Portland is doing it through some of his popular t-shirts and hats.
Grafletics is doing a big fundraiser to coincide with the holiday weekend shopping. One hundred percent of the proceeds from their very popular line that says "Oregon Is Above California" will go to the California Community Foundation and the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation.
Grafletics is a local apparel company that does all their own designs, with an Oregon theme and also for Blazer and Timbers fans. "Oregon Is Above California" is a tongue in cheek dig at California as well as simple geography and is one of their most popular designs.
"It's fun, it puts a smile on people's faces. There's some humor to it, and we always like to inject humor into our stuff," said owner Rick Gilbert.
Gilbert was preparing to release a new orange and black version in time for the Oregon-Oregon State civil war game this week and had a thought.
"It kind of felt like it was kicking someone while they were down, it didn't feel quite right so I got inspired to create a fundraiser," he said.
Through Cyber Monday, you can help a local business and donate to the fire victims by visiting the Grafletics store in Sellwood or going online to grafletics.com. They also did a fundraiser for the Gorge after the Eagle Creek fire and donated about $1,500.
Oregon firefighters who have gone down there to help out, think it's an awesome idea, every little bit helps. Lt. Kestin Kim is with back with his Gresham Fire Dept. crew after 10 days in Paradise and Chico California.
"We'd search these burned down houses for victims, shutting off utilities and putting out hot spots," Lt. Kim said. "It takes a toll on you. It's kind of depressing most of the time because you're just searching, and luckily we didn't find anything that we could distinguish but after a while, it gets to you."
Kim, like most of the 290 Oregon firefighters down there helping, can only think how lucky they are to return to a home, a holiday and their family.
"Just a little north of us was a Walmart and all the residents who lost their homes were in the back of the Walmart camped out because they had nowhere to go," she said.
Captain Trish Connolly of the Bend Fire Department, who has been a strike team leader down there for the past week, is headed home tonight. Her team from central and eastern Oregon has been on the fire lines, then helping farm animals and cats and dogs escape the flames and get reunited, as well as make sure it's safe for people to come back in the burned area. It's taken a toll.
"I've never seen the devastation like I have here," said Connolly. "And I have family that lived in Paradise and my sister lives in Chico, so I've been in Paradise a lot, so it really hit home too. I think we all feel really honored to help the community is any way we can."
One worry on their minds now though, the cancer risk they were exposed to.
"The smoke was horrible here when we first got here, and we were breathing that all in. With the crews that were really digging through the rubble, they were wearing special masks," Connolly said. "For us, we really weren't because we were driving around and identifying hazards in the neighborhoods. But of course, that always plays in, the stuff we're breathing. It's a risk we know comes with the job."