When Sheldon Traver saw flames fanning up from Lori and Tim Woods’ home in the 100 block of Wesley Street on July 11, the Silverton resident said he felt strongly that he “needed to do something.”
The next morning when he found out the family of five didn’t have renter’s insurance, the desire to help became compelling. Although he didn’t know the Woods personally, he immediately began organizing a fundraiser to assist. Traver said by the time he got to work that Tuesday a Saturday car wash had been lined up to benefit the family.
A professional photographer, Traver also offered photos and a print in exchange for donations. He got permission from the City of Silverton to use Coolidge & McClaine Park as the setting.
“It was really smooth sailing,” Traver said of the arrangements.
But the seas got a little rougher from there. When Saturday rolled around young people arrived at the Silverton Eye Care parking lot by 10 a.m. ready to wash cars. Unfortunately, so did the rain. The “car wash” signs had been forgotten, but that didn’t deter the enthusiastic volunteers. They jumped and yelled “Car wash!” from the sidewalk. But no cars stopped.
Kimberly Oppelt, youth director at the Church of the Nazarene, who took the helm for the car wash said after two hours of standing in the rain with no donors stopping she felt ready to pack it up. But still the young volunteers were undaunted. Their first customer rolled in at 12:30 p.m., followed by a steady stream.
Oppelt said one person even stopped to donate without getting a car wash and gush with pride over the compassion and generosity being demonstrated.
“The community is really gathering around this family in a way Silverton should be proud of,” said Oppelt.
Vendors at the Silverton Farmers Market across the way also made donations to help out. Between the photos, car wash, and other donations $275 was raised that day to help the family.
Traver said the money went toward brakes and tires for the family’s van. They found tires on Craigslist, and the seller cut the price in half because of the family’s circumstance.
Generosity is normal for Silverton residents, who often rally around a need, Traver said. “It’s one of the things that I find special about our community.”
Traver and Oppelt were both humble about their own efforts. Oppelt said it wouldn’t have happened without Traver’s instigation. Traver credited Oppelt with doing the organizing. Oppelt credited the enthusiasm of volunteers for making it a success.
“I came up with the original idea but it was everybody contributing,” Traver said.
As a youth director Oppelt said she was “just so proud” of her young people.
“They’re learning how to be part of the community…and how to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our town.”
Silverton Friends Church is also planning a fundraiser, but had not announced details as of press time. The Woods are staying with relatives for now.