BILLINGS — A donation site that popped up in Billings on Wednesday was just one way people could help hundreds of residents evacuated from their homes on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation due to the Richard Springs Fire.
"We're reaching out in all four directions, and we're getting help in all four directions," said Abdel Russell, Western Native Voice program director.
Hundreds were evacuated from Lame Deer and Ashland to Busby on Tuesday, and the fire continued to move on Wednesday, jumping US Highway 212 near Muddy Cluster around 3 p.m. It has so far burned about 150,000 acres.
Staff and volunteers with Western Native Voice took donations at the intersection of North 27th Street and Third Avenue North in Billings throughout the day on Wednesday. At 6:30 p.m., the group will pack up their rented box truck and make their way to the shelter at the Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby.
A wide variety of items are needed, including food, water, tents, personal protective equipment, toiletries, feminine products, baby products, clothing (all sizes), batteries, flashlights, bedding, non-perishable food, and clothing.
Russell is from Busby, has family in Lame Deer and a lot of friends in Ashland. He said communication with people on the reservation is tough right now with a lack of cellular service due to the fire.
"In our circle back home on the reservation, it's a close-knit family. One small thing affects the entire tribe. Obviously, those who live off the reservation, I can tell you they are very concerned as well for their families and loved ones back home," Russell said.
The Western Native Voice crew will be back at the same location from around 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday to pick up more donations. They have also set up a PayPal account for donations that can be reached by clicking here.
Evacuees who have ended up in Colstrip should know there are some services available to them, according to social media posts from Rosebud County Disaster and Emergency Services. Colstrip City Hall has free potable water to fill small jugs and tanks that can be accessed from spigots on the north and west sides of the building.
Staff at Miner House Inn in Colstrip are offering free ice to anyone assisting with firefighting or assisting with providing food. The Colstrip Parks and Recreation Department has offered its facilities for people to shower.
There's another way to help for those planning to attend MontanaFair in Billings this year.
Up to four canned food-item donations to Billings Family Service will get you a dollar each off the price of admission.
Family Service staff will be making regular trips to evacuated locations with two trucks over the course of the fair this upcoming week.
Fore more on evacuation services in Busby, Crow Agency, Colstrip and Broadus, click the link below.