Wilco gives check

Wilco representatives present the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund with a $75,000 check. From left to right are TJ Colson, vice president of store operations; Jeff Buccello, Wilco-Purina Lifestyle production specialist; Tanner Shockey, Stayton farm store manager; Megan Draper, community engagement specialist; Melissa Baurer, Santiam Hospital service integration coordinator, Deana Freres, Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund adviser; and Maggie Hudson, CEO of Santiam Hospital.

MT. ANGEL, Ore. — Wilco staff delivered a check for $75,000 to the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund on Jan. 4 to help communities rebuild after a series of destructive wildfires ravaged the area last September.

It is the largest single contribution in the co-op’s history. In addition to direct donations from Wilco customers and employees, some employees also converted their unused vacation time to give to the local nonprofit.

“Our hope with any cash donation is that it offers immediate relief to those who need it most,” said TJ Colson, vice president of retail store operations for Wilco. “The September wildfires in Oregon added to a historic year of upheaval and we want to be part of the rebuilding, growth and renewal of our rural communities.”

The canyon was devastated by wind-whipped wildfires that swept through the area during the week after Labor Day. More than 700 homes were destroyed in and around the towns of Detroit, Mill City, Gates, Lyons and Mehama and in the Little North Fork area.

The Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund has set a goal to raise $5 million that will go directly to support residents of fire-stricken communities, including Detroit, Mill City, Gates, Lyons and Mehama. To date, the fund has raised more than $2.6 million.

“This effort means a lot to our employees and farmers, many whom were personally affected by the wildfires,” Colson said.

All together, Wilco has donated more than $120,000 in cash and supplies since the 2020 Oregon wildfires began. That includes a separate $25,000 donation to the American Red Cross, and more than $20,000 in donated supplies — including donations from vendors such as Purina and Nature’s Bedding.

Hundreds of Wilco employees also volunteered at county and state fairgrounds that served as evacuation sites during the fires, where families were forced to flee with their animals.

“One positive that came out of the tragic fires was seeing our employees, customers and vendors all rally together to help community members and their animals in a time of real need,” Colson said.

Established in 1967, Wilco today serves more than 500,000 customers and has more than 3,000 farmer members across the Pacific Northwest.

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