Dear Editor,

On March 6, 2017 a large grass fire burned our countryside. It took with it our cattle, grass, hay and fences. And left us with land we didn’t recognize.

Black dirt in place of winter grass. Dead cattle and wildlife spotted the blowing dirt. You could travel from Kansas to Oklahoma to Texas on horseback and never open a gate because all the fences were burned down.

That day forever changed our lives. Needless to say, our spirits were a little low.

But then the good people of America started pouring in help as word got out. And your community was one of them. Fencing supplies, tools, food, side by side, the list goes on and on and on…

A trip was organized and went into motion. A group of kids from the Chelsea FFA and sponsors showed up on our ranch to help us start the rebuilding process! They worked long and hard under tough conditions, always willing to learn and help.

They tore out five miles of burnt fences and put in ¾ mile of posts. That’s about 20 hours each, so 320 man-hours total. That includes Dani cooking and preparing meals. So that’s around $5,000 worth of work!

You know there are just no words to say what your community did for us. Thank you seems so lame, but thank you it is!

Thank you for taking time out of your lives to help us.

Thank you for sending such great kids and sponsors that put a smile on our face and laughter in our hearts. And we really needed that!

Thank you to Chelsea Schools Superintendent Rich McSpadden, high school Principal Howard Hill and junior high Principal Debbi Hoskins. Thank you to FFA students Hailey Strickland, Nathan Rohrbough, Sarah Henley, Rachel Reinert, Jake Swafford, Ethon Parsley, Eion Parsley, Abby Payne, Tayley Hayes, Afton Allman, Maddy Loudermilk, Tanner Gardner and Chancie Jinkens.

Thank you to sponsors Zack and Dani Rinehart and FFA advisor Travis Jinkens.

Thank you to all the moms, dads, friends, neighbors, teachers and students!

Thank you to Tom Haner and Vinita FFA for fencing supplies; John’s Tractor Works for side by side; Lowe’s for tools and Walmart for snacks.

To anyone and everyone who helped make this trip possible, thank you!

We will remember how your community reached out to our hurting ranch.

We will remember each time we come and go by the fences you worked so hard on and what you all did for us.

We will remember as we come home and see the carving on the log tree by our house that tells us how much all cared about us.

And, as we rebuild from the ashes, you gave us hope!

From our ranch to yours!

Bernie, Dixie, Levi, Blake, Ashley, Hazel, Jimmy, Ashley, Codie and Corie Smith family

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