In the days following the start of the Eagle Creek Fire, Greta and her family had just returned home from a camping trip on Mt. Hood. They immediately noticed that the smoke was making a difference in air quality. For her 7th birthday, Greta decided to collect donations for the American Red Cross.
“We couldn’t go outside for lunch recess or snack, because it was that smoky,” Greta said, as the smoky air continued on her first day of school. That night, Greta and her mother Amy, scrolled through Facebook and found posts from a family friend named Rhonda. She had posted photos and videos as she helped evacuate her mother from her home in Cascade Locks.
After seeing what was happening, Greta and her mom put their heads together searching for a way to help those who were affected by the fire. Greta decided she would ask her classmates at St John Fisher School to donate money to the Red Cross, instead of bringing her birthday presents.
On the day of her party, Greta made a sign that read “Red Cross Donations” on the front with “Thank You” on the back. She placed it in front of a vase she used to collect the money. It wasn’t easy giving up all her presents. “I only got like four,” Greta said, but she still had fun with her friends. She had invited her entire class to her BJ the Clown birthday party. “BJ called me his grandma,” Greta giggled with a big smile on her face.
Greta raised a total of $300. “Pretty great for first graders!” exclaimed her mother. Greta and Amy decided to give the money to Kathleen Elliot, a local Red Cross responder. Kathleen had recently asked Amy to lead a meeting for her at the Multnomah Athletic Club, while she was out responding to the fire.
Amy said, “I wanted the donation to have an impact on Greta, so she could understand that it made a personal impact--versus hearing the name Red Cross and not really understanding what that meant.”
After Kathleen returned from the fire, she went to Greta's school, and showed the whole class, how their donations would help people.
“She brought in a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal, a water bottle, a toothbrush and a blankie. She told us that sometimes people forget things because they evacuate quickly,” said Greta. Greta handed Kathleen the vase filled with donations, and then Kathleen gave Greta the Mickey Mouse stuffed animal.
Greta and Amy will continue brainstorming for other ways to collect more donations. “Maybe a lemonade stand,” Greta said when asked about her next idea.