Fred Rogers, the genial host for over 30 years of the PBS children’s program Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, famously advised that when scary or tragic events occur to “look for the helpers.” It was advice that was given to him by his mother, and is often used to help comfort children when tragedies strike.
My community currently finds itself caught up in a crisis. Our mountains are being ravaged by a raging wildfire that has consumed over 50,00 acres and 13 homes in Southern Utah thus far. These mountains are sacred to us. They are home to several small communities, abundant wildlife, and treasured recreational areas. For our family, it is where we take our three boys hiking and fishing every chance we can get. It’s where we go to gt away from it all, and I am terrified to see what’s become of it.
Feeling helpless, I began to “look for the helpers,” and was not surprised at all to see my community coming together in a big way to support the more than 1600 people who are currently fighting the “Brian Head Fire.” One of these helpers was a special little girl named Brooklee who had a brilliant idea on how to help the many thirsty firefighters who call her town of Panguitch, UT their current home base.
Brooklee’s mom, Melissa Mosdell, tells Babble that her daughter got the idea for a free lemonade stand after she had “watched the firemen come off the hill the night before and she had seen how tired and dirty they were.” She said that her daughter “wanted to do something nice for them.” Free of charge. So Mosdell and her daughter put out a message on Facebook detailing their plan and asked if anyone wanted to help.
“The response was amazing,” she says.
Everything they could possibly need was donated, including lemonade, cookies, donuts, and cups. When it came time to deliver the goods, an additional 25 to 30 kids (and many parents and grandparents) showed up to help. I can only imagine how those firefighters felt after a long, stifling hot day on the mountain to see all those people waiting to offer their gratitude.
Mosdell tells Babble that she estimates that they passed out lemonade to 500 or more firefighters. “At times, there were fire trucks lined up clear up the road, so the kids would just hand it to them as they drove by,” she says.
She also mentions how impressed she was that the firefighters took the time to stop for these kids after an exhausting day, adding, “To these kids, these firefighters are heroes who are trying to save our community and surrounding areas.” It meant the world to them to be able to help the firefighters in some way, and they seemed to know and appreciate that.
It has meant the world to all of us in the surrounding communities as well, and I have seen similar acts of service play out in my town and the others nearby. There have been many posts to social media asking what the firefighters may need and inquiring where to send the goods. So many, in fact, that I also saw posts stating that the firefighters’ headquarters were overwhelmed with donations and not needing anything else at that time.
Southern Utah University has opened its doors to those displaced by the fire by offering up dorms designed for families free of charge. And in Parowan, another home base for firefighters, kids hand out candy and make “thank you” signs for those fighting this wildfire. The local businesses on Main Street are also littered with signs of support for these brave men and women.