Pop-up ‘store’ offers free items for fire victims in Rough and Ready | TheUnion.com

Pop-up ‘store’ offers free items for fire victims in Rough and Ready

Volunteer Marianna Gausman folds donated pants at the free store for fire victims that has opened in the former Rough and Ready Country Store.
Photo by Liz Kellar/lkellar@theunion.com

Know & Go

To donate goods: Items can be dropped off at the former Rough and Ready Country Store, 14503 Rough and Ready Highway.

Another way to help: The Community Disaster Response Fund has been organized by Grass Valley Police Chaplains and local community leaders, including the five local Rotary Clubs (Penn Valley, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Grass Valley South, and Nevada City 49er Breakfast Rotary). To learn more and/or make a donation of any amount, visit Support Nevada County Residents https://givingtrail.org/campaigns/200110/support-nevada-county-ca-residents-rebuild-after-fires" target="_blank">Rebuild.(https://givingtrail.org/campaigns/200110/support-nevada-county-ca-residents-rebuild-after-fires). You can also make contributions payable to “First Response Chaplains” under account 611026951 and deposited at any branch of Tri-Counties Bank or make a donation via PayPal.

In the wake of the Lobo fire, Rough and Ready’s volunteer fire department was flooded with donated goods from the community — so much so that they had to start turning away items due to lack of space and gave at least one truckload of goods to Women of Worth.

But volunteer Susann Grace — who fled her own home temporarily during the fire and who helped out during the ensuing week at the animal evacuation center — was determined to keep the donations in town to help local victims.

Grace credits Rough and Ready Fire Capt. Tim Pettee with contacting the owners of the now-shuttered Rough and Ready Country Store; they agreed to allow volunteers to open the space to act as a free store of sorts with clothing, blankets, pet gear and household necessities.

Grace, who has been posting the store’s hours on the Grass Valley Peeps Facebook page, has a “faithful” group of volunteers who come in to help her sort, she said, adding, “It’s been a blessing.”

The “pop-up” shop will close temporarily during the storm, but Grace hopes to reopen as soon as possible. When she is not there, Grace said, the firefighters across the street at the fire station typically will have the key.

On Tuesday, volunteer Karen Hart was busy sorting through donated shirts and meticulously folding them before putting them on the shelves lining the former market.

“If there’s a need, and I can help … I love volunteering,” she said. “We’re supposed to help each other — so here we are.”

Elena Skelton, from the tiny Yuba County community of Meridian, stopped by with donations purchased by her neighborhood.

Skelton said she has personal experience of what it feels like to go through a natural disaster — her home was inundated by eight feet of water during the 1997 floods.

Another woman who came in with donated items hugged Grace, telling her, “You’re doing the hard work — where would we be without you?”

The “pop-up” store in Rough and Ready has turned into something of a healing center, Grace said.

“I came here thinking I was doing one thing, but we’re doing far more,” she said. “They can hang out and talk — it’s amazing to me, that wasn’t my intention.

“They have permission to let go; we just let them be,” Grace continued. “We reach out, and the next thing you know, they’re in your arms — it’s a spontaneous thing.”

Grace’s voice cracks when she talks about the woman who came in who told her she had nothing of her own.

“That really sunk into my being,” she said.

According to Grace, some people don’t understand that many of the displaced fire survivors have no place to store a lot of items right now, such as furniture.

“Ask yourself, if I lost everything, what would I want to replace first?” Grace said. “And you’re now in an RV or someone’s extra bed room — what would you want and need?”

One thing in high demand is new pillows — and socks.

Grace put it to “a higher power,” and the next day a woman was waiting for her at the store with brand-new pillows. The day after that, a Lake Wildwood resident drove up with a trunk full of blankets, pillows and towel sets, who said she was challenging her neighborhood to match her donation.

“The need is being answered,” Grace said.

Right now, she is putting the word out for tarps, as well as treats and toys for pets.

“We try to pick out the best of things,” Grace said, adding that she diverts other items to thrift stores. “We want to have pride in what we give out.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lkellar@theunion.com.

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