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Man spends winter chopping wood to donate to those in need

Posted at 8:53 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 13:44:56-05

The messages that enter Shane McDaniel's Facebook inbox are more than messages, they are hopes and prayers.

“Shane, I am a Marine Corps veteran and my wife is disabled," one message read.

“I worry about my father who has been battling stage 4 cancer," read another.

McDaniel and his family try to answer those messages with each piece of wood they toss into a towering pile in Lake Stevens, Washington.

“Get my eight kids together and split as much wood as we can," McDaniel explained of his efforts.

The family chops, splits, and cuts wood throughout the year, but it's when the temperature drops that he receives countless messages on Facebook from people struggling and looking for a way to stay warm.

"It’s a lot of messages from people that are just in despair," he said.

McDaniel’s drive to donate started three years ago, when he says during a scuba diving lesson, he nearly drowned.

“Drowning changes your perspective on what you even own, what you spend your time doing, and I just wanted to make a positive impact,” he said.

Each winter since, McDaniel has given firewood to those facing challenges.

"Our propane bill was almost $700 a month," said Sarah DeRemer, a single mom working multiple jobs.

McDaniel brought her firewood last year in an effort to help.

“I don’t get handouts. I’ve done everything on my own, for me and my kids, so it's just like, it was hard for me to accept someone being nice to me," DeRemer said.

McDaniel helps people fighting many battles, including one he knows all too well. He says he lost his dad and brother to cancer, while his sister is fighting the disease now.

Then, there are those fighting battles few will ever understand. People like Cindy Zink.

“I’m a 60-year-old woman who was just diagnosed with ALS and this might be my last winter,” she said.

Zink doesn’t know how much time she has left.

“That’s what God has for me, so I’m going to wake up every day and live that day that he gave me," she said.

For however long she will be here, she’ll be warmed by the wood in her fireplace.

“It’s a beautiful thing when people come over and it draws them right into the home," Zink expressed.

Warmth, especially in the most trying of times, carries a meaning beyond just temperature and flame.

“Those are the ones that make you say, you know what, we’re going keep doing this," McDaniel said.