Generous donations continue to come into the Drovers/Farm Journal Foundation Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Challenge by farmers, ranchers and industry partners who want to help ease the recovery burden of those who were hit by the High Plains wildfires in March.

By May 18, more than 600 donations had been made online or by mail totaling more than $350,000. And it’s clear they came from the heart: Some gifts were accompanied by handwritten notes of support and thankfulness in the relief they could offer for ranchers suffering such a tremendous trial.

One donation came from a student organization of 300 members, where a “free-will offering” was taken during a social event. The donations, totaling $1,032, were then matched by the club for a total donation of $2,032.

Many other notes came from farmers and ranchers from several states away. With planting season already in progress, and at work in their own fields, farmers offered monetary donations so the needs of farmers and ranchers in the Great Plains could quickly be addressed.  

Industry partners have also joined the challenge. IMMVAC, a Columbia, Mo.,-based business, pledged $150,000 to the cause. Others have made online donations.

The total doubles when matching funds from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation are included.

The money will help ranchers replace the thousands of miles of fence lost when wildfires swept through Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, destroying cattle, buildings, homes, machinery and scorching 1.6 million miles of ground.

The Buffett Foundation agreed to match all donations to the Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Challenge dollar for dollar until July 31, up to $1 million. The Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA), a highly respected, national non-profit, will administer the funds. Some wildfire victims received money within 10 days of the event, and the process is ongoing as the foundation continues to collect and distribute funds to farmers and ranchers.

That means the Drovers/Farm Journal Foundation Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Challenge has the potential to raise at least $2 million to help ranchers rebuild after the historic fires.

“While we are grateful for their generosity, we also know there’s a lot of expensive work to be done helping ranchers rebuild, so please keep spreading the word about this outstanding opportunity,” says Charlene Finck, Chief Content Officer of Farm Journal Media and President of the Farm Journal Foundation.

 For more information on the challenge and to donate, visit www.wildfirerelieffund.org.