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Foundation expands focus to wildfires’ hardest hit

By JAMIE CLARK TIRALLA
AFP Correspondent

The Ashland Community Foundation was formed in 1996 and remains an all-volunteer board.
Until the wildfires raged though the Kansas plains, the organization’s focus has been primarily on making investments in Ashland through community grants to local organizations like schools, libraries, and fire departments.
Since the devastating fires, the foundation has expanded its focus to all of Clark County to support the individuals and agricultural producers who were among the hardest hit in the state.
“We feel very blessed that we are in a position to help producers,” said Jan Endicott, vice president of the Ashland Community Foundation.
The Ashland Community Foundation is one of several organizations that is accepting donations and distributing them to those in need throughout Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
Endicott’s full-time job is with the Stockgrowers State Bank in Ashland.
She said the immediate needs are being addressed now, but it will take years for most people to recover.
“We’ve seen producers who lost everything. Not just their cows, but their calf crop. It might take people five to seven years to get back in the place where they were,” Endicott said.
Endicott said the Ashland Community Foundation will be awarding grants for homeowner applicants this month.
The deadline for agricultural producers is June first, and awards will be made based on the scope of loss.
“There’s really nobody that needs it more than anybody else,” Endicott said. “It’s not only the big people who got hurt.
“Big or small, it doesn’t matter. To them, it was everything.”
She added: “Not everyone will be made whole, but we can sure make a dent in it for them.”
Endicott said that the generosity from people across the United States has been overwhelming to the Clark County community and the board members for the Ashland Community Foundation.
“We say we went in to this as friends and neighbors and came out as a family,” said Endicott.
She said Kansas farmers are resilient, but the outpouring of support has made a tremendous impact in people’s lives.
“Nobody does this expecting anything in return. To us though, it’s a big deal,” Endicott said. “You’re not in ag if you’re a wimp. But they’re going to be able to be more resilient because of…people in Maryland.”