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Chamber honors Firewood Rescue as top volunteer

| February 4, 2023 1:00 AM

Firewood Rescue was honored this week by the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce as its March volunteer of the month.

Firewood Rescue became a reality in 2017 when founder Paul Krames realized that while veterans had a program to get free firewood, the average citizen did not when a woman whose husband was disabled contacted him for help.

While Krames was able to secure some firewood, he had no way to transport it so he reached out to friends on Facebook for a truck to pick up the wood and deliver it.

That gave him the idea on how he could provide firewood for those in need — and the endeavor took off. Firewood Rescue is now a 501(c)3 in the state of Idaho.

Firewood Rescue is a local nonprofit dedicated to providing a one-time delivery of free firewood to individuals and families on an emergency basis.

Applicants also must be faced with difficult circumstances and use wood as their primary source of heat. Priority consideration will be given to the low-income/disabled individuals and elderly, or individuals who are low-income and seriously ill.

“We give you a load based on the truck size of the volunteer delivering wood to you," Firewood Rescue administrator Eileen Esplin told chamber members in accepting the award. "This is usually about half of a cord of wood."

Firewood Rescue officials said the processed wood is provided by the hard work of community volunteers to help those in need. The majority of its volunteers are retired and cover the cost of expenses out-of-pocket, Esplin said.

Esplin, who has a background in administrative social work and finances, said because Firewood Rescue is not a government agency, it is not constrained by any stringent rules. The group works closely with Community Action Partnership in Bonner and Boundary counties and other local agencies and businesses to provide information to its recipients on how to apply for their Energy Assistance programs.

"It may take two weeks for CAP to get a check to purchase a couple of cords of firewood and, in the meantime, [Firewood Rescue] will deliver a load of wood to keep their home warm," she said. "We deliver all year around and in any weather.”

Since inception, FR has delivered over 250 loads of firewood – all free to the recipients.