Chillicothe residents travel to Nebraska to donate items for flood victims.
Missouri is the Show-Me State.
And on Wednesday (March 27) Missourians showed truckloads of compassion when they brought hay, household goods, food and animal medical supplies to the Fremont area.
Samantha Ondracek Graves, originally from North Bend, was part of a caravan that came from Chillicothe, Mo., to the Cornhusker state with goods intended to help farmers and townspeople affected by historic flooding.
The caravan included a semi-truck and a semi with a flatbed trailer that hauled 36 huge, round bales of hay. Two other trucks in the convoy pulled a 20-foot cargo trailer and a livestock trailer filled with goods.
Graves said project began when her friend Taylor Croy of Chillicothe “felt it on her heart” to gather supplies. Graves and Croy joined forces with former Nebraskan Sue Bachman, who has family in Fremont.
All three are very involved in the cattle industry.
“We called upon people within our hometown and we actually had a cattle show in Chillicothe this weekend that was attended by people from nine different states — and donations were given there as well,” Graves said.
Donations came in the form of money and supplies.
Graves said Croy talked with the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture about what supplies to bring.
At 5 a.m. Wednesday, (March 27) the convoy of six adults and 10-year-old Beau Ann Graves, left Chillicothe, a town of about 9,600. The group then set out on the more than 260-mile trek to the Fremont area.
Graves said the hay was taken to the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center at Ithaca. The center, which is near Mead, is one of the places where farm supplies are being gathered.
The Missouri convoy also brought animal medical supplies, which included antibiotics, along with fencing supplies and two tons of bags of cracked corn to feed livestock.
In addition, the group took non-perishable food, paper products, cleaning supplies, diapers, shampoo, feminine hygiene products, dog and cat food and cat litter to Fremont City Auditorium.
Supplies included eight, 5-gallon buckets of dishwashing and laundry soap.
“I’ve never seen so many gallons of bleach in my life. That was a huge thing that was donated,” Graves said.
The wide variety of food included about 10 bottles of Ranch and French salad dressing, several cans of SpaghettiOs, brownie mix, canned chicken and tuna and soup.
“If it can be eaten, I guarantee it was on that trailer,” Graves said.
And there were 50 to 60 cases of bottled water, along with Gatorade.
“It blows my mind — the generosity of people and how much was given,” Graves said.
The trip took longer than expected.
“We had to take kind of an unusual route because of I-29 being closed,” Graves said. “We had to take (U.S. Highway) 77 to (Nebraska Highway) 36—so it’s taking us quite a bit longer than it normally would,” Graves said on the way back to Missouri.
Before the group returned to Missouri, however, Graves and others in the convoy stopped by the Runza restaurant on Military Avenue.
“The only time we get to have it (Runza) is when we’re in Nebraska,” she said.
Graves is proud of her home state, adding that Croy said more than once how friendly Nebraskans are.
“Whenever we arrived, people came out of the woodwork to help us unload,” Graves added. “It took no time to unload the trailers. It’s a great group that’s at the auditorium.”
Graves also deeply appreciates her hometown of North Bend.
“I have a ton of hometown pride,” she said.
North Bend’s citizens have banded together to help each other and the community has received an outpouring of support with items donated from all over.
“So we felt that maybe our supplies could be used in Fremont and it’s my understanding Winslow was affected pretty badly — our hope was to get it to Fremont and then it would be dispersed as needed,” she said.
Graves and her husband, Preston, and their daughter Beau Ann live in Missouri where they raise show cattle. Samantha is involved in reproductive work with cattle in Missouri.
Beau Ann was allowed to take a day off of school to help with the community service.
“All she had to do was take pictures and bring them back to school,” Graves said.
In the meantime, Nebraskans will benefit from the kindness of the Missourians.
Supplies — including those from Missouri — filled city auditorium on Wednesday (March 27).
Jaime Mayer, office associate at the research center near Mead, told how farmers and ranchers affected by the flooding will benefit.
Supplies are distributed based on need.
“We’ve had the National Guard come out a few times and take up some bales of hay for airlift so they’ve been able to get the hay that’s been donated here out to those in dire need with the waters still up around them.”
Several loads have gone to a reservation. Many local people have received some bales to help them until they can cut their own hay.
Mayer said it means a lot to farmers and ranchers to get the much-needed supplies.
“You see it every time someone comes out to pick up a load — just the gratitude they have, not only for the farmers in Nebraska who have provided these materials for them, but for the farmers and ranchers across the country that have donated to us. It’s pretty moving,” Mayer said.
Mayer said farmers and ranchers from 11 states, including Nebraska, have made donations.
These donations include: six types of hay; bags of feed; molasses lick tubs (which have protein and minerals for animals); horse, cattle and calf feed; different types of medicine; lots of fencing materials — metal T posts, barbed wire, clips, pliers and leather gloves.
“It’s definitely nice to be able to get it out and let people know we have this here for them to use,” Mayer said.
Those with questions about bringing donations or receiving donated materials should call Doug Zalesky, director of the research and extension center, at 1-970-759-8626.
Collection and load hours are between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Material unloading equipment and operators provided. The center near Mead is only taking large bales of hay. Small bales can be taken to the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln.
More information is available at: https://extension.unl.edu/statewide/enre/haydonations/ and for those needing assistance at http://www.nda.nebraska.gov/resources/index.html
Graves also pointed out something important for those receiving donations.
“I always think — tomorrow it could be us,” she said. “Tomorrow, we could be in a spot where we may be relying on someone else to help us and so today is our day to give—hopefully it helps somebody.”
This article originally appeared in the March 28 edition of the Fremont Tribune. It is being published in the Constitution-Tribune with permission of the news editor for the Fremont Tribune.