UPDATE: Meet the farmer who started the statewide relief effort to wildfire ravaged states

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(WJRT) - (03/21/17) - Land, livestock and livelihoods have been lost to wildfires across Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma.

When one mid-Michigan man heard about the devastation, he immediately stepped up.

Now farmers and ranchers across the state are raising money and making trips to hand deliver the donations.

"I started this with the intention of being able to load two trucks," Matt Schaller explained.

But Friday morning, Schaller was joined by nine other truck drivers. Their trailers were loaded up with $30,000 worth of hay and other donations for their fellow farmers in Kansas and Oklahoma hit hard by the wildfires.

"It came through and just burned homes, burned barns, equipment. I mean everything," Schaller said. "So, not only are they dealing with what to do with their livelihood, but they have nowhere to go."

Schaller heard about a couple who died trying to save their livestock and knew he had to help.

"I know that if we lost everything we had, we'd be hard up and we'd be looking for help from people too," he explained. "So, that's what made me really want to get out there and help."

In just three days, the Michigan Convoy drove 1200 miles and back, dropping off the supplies and hearing each family's stories.

"It was a life changing experience, that's for sure. I couldn't wrap my mind around it," Schaller said. "Getting down there, it was really emotional. It was really emotional for everybody that went."

Back home in Davison, Schaller works at Hunt Farms where, just a week before he left, a fire caused more than $2 million in damages.

"It's been pretty interesting the way it all happened," he said.

But, it didn't stop what has now become a statewide effort.

"You help people. And in this industry, no matter what it takes, you've gotta step up and try something," Schaller added.

If you're interested in helping out, you can join their Facebook Page Michigan Convoy or check out the GoFundMe page link on this story.

Schaller initially started the GoFundMe page to support their efforts, but he tells us, realizing the long term impact, they decided to set up an account at a local bank.

The fund is titled "Michigan Ag Community Wildfire Relief Fund." You can donate at Chemical Bank or the Tri County Banks in the thumb region. Schaller says all donations will go straight to support farmers and ranchers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas.

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(03/17/17) - Wildfires across the country had consumed more than 1 million acres, taking at least 7 lives.

A caravan of Michigan farmers and truckers are making their way to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado this weekend to lend a hand.

They left early Friday morning with farm supplies, equipment and volunteers.

They're hoping to help farmers and ranchers as they work to recover from the fires.

We've been told Matt Schaller from Hunt Farms in Genesee County's Richfield Township actually initiated the effort after hearing about a young couple killed while trying to save their livestock.

A generous undertaking after Schaller's family lost their own farm equipment just one week ago.



 
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