The Bozeman community is pitching in to help raise money for the victims of this year’s Northern California wildfires.
Many have felt helpless over the last few weeks watching the Camp Fire as it burned through Northern California, torched homes and took at least 85 lives. But two Bozeman businesses are shifting from empathy to action, and using their passion to spark change.
For Jeff Sposito, CEO of outdoor supplier Stone Glacier, the fires hit close to home. Sposito, who is originally from Northern California, says his wife’s family, his aunt, and a number of his friends lost their homes in the fire.
On November 20, the Stone Glacier team uploaded videos to YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram announcing their NorCal Sportsmen’s Gear Drive campaign to gather gear for the victims of the Camp Fire.
Sposito’s request for “boots, jackets, pants, bows, optics, backpacks, anything you got” has already seen incredible enthusiasm. In just over two weeks, the company has already collected hundreds of pounds of gear, primarily for hunting and fishing.
“We’ve gotten shipments from people all over the country,” says Sposito. “From Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, all over the place.”
He credits social media for their message being spread so quickly. Drop-off sites have even been established by supporters across the country for those interested in donating to the cause.
As avid hunters and fishermen themselves, Sposito said the Stone Glacier team felt for the people who had lost not just their home, but their favorite pastime.
“Paradise is a large hunting community,” he explains. “And there’s been lots of gracious people doing things for that community now, but we know hunting and fishing gear’s kind of one of those things that’s on the bottom of the list when you’ve lost everything.”
The gear will be packed up into a trailer and driven to Chico, California by Sposito on December 14. Donations will be accepted until December 13. Those interested in donating their gear can send it to Stone Glacier, located at 608 W. Griffin Drive A in Bozeman.
If you don’t have anything to give, you can drink your support at Bozeman Brewing Company, where a new specialty IPA - with profits going completely to the Camp Fire Relief Fund - is being brewed.
Bozeman Brewing Company joined 1200 breweries across the country - including 6 other breweries and 3 distributors in the Treasure State - to sell the unique IPA. The brew was created by Chico-based Sierra Nevada Brewing, whose community was hit hard by the Camp Fire.
“We know that the rebuilding process will take time,” a note announcing the national campaign on Sierra Nevada’s website says, “but we’re in this for the long haul. Our hope is to get Resilience IPA in taprooms all over the country to create a solid start for our community’s future.”
The original brew – made with hops local to Northern California and lovingly dubbed “Resilience Butte County Proud IPA” – can be produced by any participating brewery.
Bill Hyland, Head Brewer at Bozeman Brewing, said their staff was immediately interested after Sierra Nevada’s announcement asking other breweries to take part in the campaign. After finding out some of their suppliers would be willing to donate the ingredients for the beer, Hyland said it was “pretty much a no-brainer.”
“Montana has wildfires too,” Hyland added, “so maybe they’ll brew a beer for us someday, if we get the same kind of trouble again.”
Bozeman Brewing Company’s supply of Resilience IPA was brewed earlier this week. It will be available to the public in a few weeks.