Unloading a flat bead trailer, volunteers from Gillette’s Save the 4th of July group donate their leftover food items to the Council of Community Services.
“I kind of want to cry, right now,” Council of Community Services (CCS) employee Misty Lange said this morning as she looked around the storage shop filled with leftover hotdogs, buns, chips, boxes of pancake mix and other food items.
The items had just been dropped off by Gillette’s Save the 4th of July group following the first community-driven Independence Day barbecue and pancake breakfast that Campbell County has seen in over 30 years.
Typically, Campbell County Fire Department hosts the annual pancake breakfast while Campbell County Parks and Recreation (CCPR) takes care of the parade on 2nd Street, the barbecue following at Bicentennial Park and the annual fireworks show at Cam-Plex.
The group stepped in to take over the planning of events after CCPR announced in early June that state-ordered COVID-19 regulations would prohibit the entities from conducting the hotdog and pancake feeds this year.
Meanwhile, the Gillette Rants and Raves’ Facebook page exploded with controversy stemming from the cancelled event, wherein community members, like Shelby Bachtold stepped up and insisted on celebrating.
After trading some “comments” with others who had strong opinions about the cancellation of the annual holiday, Bachtold, Troy McKeown, Cynthia Johnston and a handful of others decided to take action by planning their own version of events. This led to the creation of their “Save the 4th of July Gillette” group on Facebook.
Bachtold, who was the treasurer for the group, spent the beginning of June raising money by requesting donations through phone calls and face-to-face meetings with local businesses.
By June 16, the barbecue’s variance request was approved by Wyoming Department of Health, which encouraged the Campbell County Board of Commissioners to grant $3,000 to the event for food items.
In the end, they had way more supplies than they needed, unlike years’ past.
CCS employee Mikel Scott explained that since CCPR has hosted the food-related 4th of July events for so many years, they typically do not have many leftovers to donate. In parallel, she explained, this year’s hosts did not have a solid estimate for the amount of event attendees, so they vastly overstocked on hotdogs, buns and pancake mix.
The agency received a call this morning from a volunteer who preferred not to give his name. He warned CCS that he would be “pulling up with a flat bed full of hotdogs.”
Scott admitted that she had initially laughed at the man’s bizarre promise.
“I thought he was kidding when he called earlier,” she said. “He said he had a trailer full of hot dogs, and I didn’t believe it until he pulled up.”
Save the 4th of July’s volunteers delivered over 30 flats of buns, more than 10 boxes of hotdogs, 14 crates of milk, several boxes of pancake mix and individual bags of chips this morning. Immediately, CCS employee Sherrie Haynes began separating the goods to be divided amongst the group’s food security programs.
“We feed a lot of kids with the food pantry,” Scott said, “so something like hotdogs is just great for us to provide.”
Haynes has worked with CCS for eight years, Scott, for almost five years, while c0-worker Lange is nearing her one-year mark with the organization. Both employees noted that they “had no idea” about the group’s plans to donate their leftovers.
“That man is a doer,” Lange said as the volunteer pulled out of the storage shop. “With all the negativity going on right now, he created a little positivity for his community, and that’s huge.”
“What a great way to start our Monday morning,” she said, smiling.