BURRTON — During the chaos as fires raged in Reno County, the wives of several of Burrton's volunteer firefighters realized they needed a better system to organize the resources of those in the community who wanted to provide support.
Jaclyn Holzrichter, Angela Stevens, Faith Martin and Cherie King formed a nonprofit auxiliary called STARS, which stands for "Standing Together As Responders Serve."
"We took it into our hands to form an auxiliary club," Holzrichter said. "It's a small community, so we've got to do something."
Trying to keep up with when meals needed to be cooked and where they needed to be served was a major undertaking.
"There were probably five to seven wives that would be in the kitchen here cooking when we thought they were coming back, and then they didn't come back. We had to take food to them," Holzrichter said.
As the women worked, their phones would buzz with text messages and calls from people asking how they could help.
"Everybody wanted to help, but we were in the middle of it," Holzrichter explained. "We couldn't stop and help them or have them come down and tell them what we needed."
With STARS, the group hopes to organize supplies and have them ready to go before the next time they are required.
"We needed to put together a list of people to call when we need help and also a place to put donations," Holzrichter said. "We needed to be more organized, basically, so this is a way of starting it."
Not only does the group plan to provide food for the volunteers, they also want to raise funds to purchase small pieces of equipment that are needed.
"We didn't have any goggles and guys were complaining about their eyes hurting," Holzrichter said.
Stevens noted even everyday things such as eyedrops, chapstick and phone chargers were items the volunteers wanted to have at hand as they battled the flames. They also hope to provide jumpsuits to the EMS volunteers.
STARS is kicking off their efforts with a fundraising dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. June 30 in Milburn Stone Park, located at 400 E. Adams St. in Burrton. Hot dogs will be $4 and sloppy joes will be $6.
"All of the community always said, 'what can we do to help?' This is a great opportunity for them to get involved," Martin said.
Holzrichter said the dinner will introduce STARS to the community and give them a chance to start a list of volunteers and what they are willing to do in the event of another major fire — from cooking to cleaning.
"After the last fire, at least 20 volunteers came and cleaned the station for us so that fire and EMS didn't have to do it," Martin said. "That was wonderful."
Getting as many people involved as possible will relieve the burden to support that has previously fallen on the shoulders of a few.
"When there are big fires like we had, our guys are on call all the time," Holzrichter said. "They're volunteering their time and putting their lives at risk, so we're doing what we can to help them."
Donations to the STARS group can be sent to Burrton Fire/EMS Auxiliary, PO Box 405, Burrton, KS 67020.