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Supply donations for evacuees no longer needed at The Expo

The community responded with such an outpouring of donations of supplies for wildfire evacuees that the Expo is no longer asking for supplies.

“We had a mountain of blankets and pillows and sleeping bags and clothing. We had as many as 15 cars in a line waiting to make donations. We had trouble with 35 volunteers keeping up with the stuff being donated,” said Dave Dotterer, who has been helping to manage the donations as a volunteer with Rogue Valley Community Organizations Active in Disaster.

The Expo, at 1 Peninger Road in Central Point, is serving as one of the local shelters for evacuees from the Almeda fire in southern Jackson County and the South Obenchain fire in northern Jackson County.

Throughout the day Wednesday, people and businesses came to The Expo and dropped off food and supplies for evacuees. The public was continuing to bring and offer donations Thursday.

“We want to thank the community for their generous outpouring. It was a wonderful thing to watch here,” Dotterer said.

The Expo is keeping supplies on site that are needed immediately for people sheltering there, said Helen Funk, Expo director.

Those supplies include baby formula, diapers, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags and hygiene supplies, she said.

On Thursday, Southern Oregon Goodwill trucks picked up other donated items, ranging from clothes to coffee makers, to distribute to people impacted by wildfires through its various store locations.

“As fast as we were loading up the trucks, things were coming in. We live in such a generous community,” said Dave Robison, chief operating officer for Southern Oregon Goodwill.

People displaced by wildfires or people hosting evacuees can visit Goodwill’s As-Is Outlet store at 4 W. Third St., in Medford, to pick up clothes, shoes, toys and other items at no cost. They just need to tell workers there they’ve been impacted by fires, Robison said.

People impacted by wildfires can also visit The Expo to pick up a $50 voucher that can be spent at any of Goodwill’s Jackson County retail stores.

Some Goodwill locations may be temporarily closed due to unhealthy smoke conditions.

Funk said the Rogue Valley Transportation District and the TC Chevy car dealership have been helping in an effort to shuttle evacuees to Goodwill and Walmart so they can shop for needed items.

Evacuees and those hosting evacuees can pick up essential supplies still at The Expo such as hygiene supplies and blankets, Funk said.

Goodwill has the space to store donated items such as clothing safely and get them in the hands of those who need help because of the wildfires, Robison said.

“We’re grateful to be able to partner with RVCOAD and The Expo,” Robison said. “I want to ensure people that the donations will be distributed at no cost and will get back to people impacted by the fires.”

At this point, he said, donations of physical items are no longer needed.

People who want to give should consider making a financial donation, Funk, Robison and Dotterer agreed.

That gives people impacted by the wildfires more flexibility to address their most pressing needs, Dotterer said.

“Their needs change day to day and hour to hour,” he said.

Rogue Credit Union’s Southern Oregon Fire Relief fund will match up to $50,000 in relief donations for people impacted by the Almeda and South Obenchain fires.

Tax-deductible donations will be funneled to local nonprofits helping those impacted by wildfires.

Donors can contribute to the fund at any Rogue Credit Union branch, by calling any Rogue Credit Union branch, or online at roguecu.org/community/donate.

The United Way of Jackson County is also collecting financial donations to help people impacted by fires.

To donate, see unitedwayofjacksoncounty.org/give/ or mail a check to United Way, 60 Hawthorne St., Medford, OR 97504. Donations to the United Way Fire Fund can also be made at any First Interstate Bank branch using account number 1000471001 and routing number 092901683.

Businesses that would like to donate food or meals to evacuees sheltering at The Expo should first check about the need and schedule a time to do so if there is a need. Call The Expo office at 541-774-8270 to see if food is needed.

The Expo has received so many donations of food that it has been able to send the excess to other shelters and to ACCESS, Funk said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune An outpouring of community donations means supplies are now plentiful for wildfire evacuees sheltering at The Expo.