May 5, 2006
Farmers and ranchers have always known what it means to help a neighbor in need, but that's even more evident in 2006.
With nearly $200,000 in the bank and counting, Texas Farm Bureau members have responded in a huge way to ranchers left ravaged by last month's Panhandle wildfires.
More than 1,000 square miles went up in flames, taking with it homes, outbuildings, farm equipment, fence lines, pasture land and roughly 6,000 head of livestock in a span of six days.
TFB sent out the call for help just hours after the first fires sparked, and donations began pouring in, culminating over Easter weekend with a benefit wildfire relief concert featuring Michael Martin Murphey and a host of other cowboy entertainers at Amarillo's Globe Center.
"For those affected by these devastating wildfires, the needs are indeed great," said TFB president Kenneth Dierschke. "But the generosity of Texans all over this great state has been truly overwhelming."
The concert alone helped generate roughly $80,000, according to TFB public relations director Gene Hall. Donations flowing into the Pampa Farm Bureau office and Waco headquarters totaled in excess of $107,000, as of the final week in April, and more continues to flow. And none of it includes the tons of hay and range cubes or miles of fencing material delivered to those in need in the wake of the fires.
In addition, a private fundraiser held the day before the Amarillo concert helped raise more than $35,000 to assist the many volunteer fire departments who exhausted manpower and resources battling the blaze.
"We couldn't be prouder of the way our members have responded," Dierschke said.
But with much of the state still suffering drought conditions, the needs will continue. Even as the bands played on April 15 in Amarillo, fire alarms were calling local residents away to deal with new fires that were breaking out.
Those interested in lending aid to the relief efforts are encouraged to send their tax deductible donations to the Texas Farm Bureau Fire Relief Fund, P.O. Box 2689, Waco, TX 76702-2689.