“It’s firewood, but to them it’s gold.” – Lt. Kevin Pope, former Coos Bay Corps Officer
The City of Coos Bay and The Salvation Army make use of downed trees together.
In the rural town of Coos Bay, Ore., many residents rely solely on wood-burning stoves to heat their homes. So when former Corps Officer Lt. Kevin Pope received a call from City Manager Roger Craddock about some downed trees in need of being disposed of, he knew exactly what to do. That phone call kickstarted a partnership between the city and The Salvation Army to supply firewood to low-income seniors and disabled individuals within Coos Bay and North Bend.
The city delivers the downed trees to the corps, where they accumulate until a large stockpile forms. Then the corps—now led by Envoys Dennis and Tawnya Stumpf—contacts the Coos Bay Fire Department and the men of the congregation to organize a day of chopping. Local firefighters gladly volunteer their time for this cause, said Coos Bay Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Crutchfield.
“We get to spend some time together and usually have fun and enjoy it, and at the end of the day we’re all doing something great for the community,” Crutchfield said.
According to Pope, “Guys just break out their chain saws and their splitting balls and just go to work. And it’s amazing how much wood can be processed when you have that many volunteers that show up.”
After the wood is chopped, volunteers deliver it to the recipients.
“It’s so gratifying just to see the thankfulness in their faces,” Pope said. “It’s wood, I mean it’s firewood, but to them it’s gold.”
Craddock has been pleased with the city’s partnership with The Salvation Army on this project. “It’s a great feeling, actually, to know that we had some resources that weren’t being used that we could actually put to use and help people with their basic needs,” he said. “We need organizations like The Salvation Army to assist in meeting those needs, and this is obviously an example of how we can partner and both achieve both our missions at the same time.”
In the four years since the program’s inception, the Coos Bay Corps has distributed over 130 cords of firewood—each stack measuring 4 ft. by 4 ft. by 8 ft. Stumpf said community members continue to step forward to help in the process.
“I just pray that if there is another specific need that maybe we’re not seeing, that somebody will say something, and that we can take that and pray about it and find out: ‘God, where can we go from here?,’” Pope said. “‘How can we meet these needs for the community you’ve called us to serve?’”