A 5-year-old boy’s gift for wildfire first responders is touching hearts of fire crews all over the western U.S.
When Sasha Tinning took her grandson, Carver, to shop for items to donate to firefighters, he knew just what they needed: Baby Yoda.
“Thank You Firefighters. Here is a friend for you in case you get lonely,” Carver wrote in a note he included with Baby Yoda, officially known as “The Child,” the breakout star of the Disney series “The Mandalorian.”
It wasn’t exactly what local resident Tyler Eubanks was expecting when she organized a donation drive for the communities of Molalla and Colton, Oregon. She was thinking more of practical items like food and socks.
But it turns out, Baby Yoda was exactly what these hard-working firefighters needed.
“The smallest gift of kindness goes a long way,” said Mike Lewelling, fire management officer at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. "This has been a very long and stressful fire season and many firefighters are away from their families for weeks, and even months.”
Baby Yoda and Carver’s note “puts a smile on even the toughest of firefighters out there,” Lewelling said.
Baby Yoda has traveled through Oregon, Utah and Colorado, bringing joy to the front lines. Firefighters line up to get selfies with the doll. He’s become so famous, Eubanks set up a Facebook fan and travel page for Baby Yoda to track his journey.
“What’s happening with these fires is quite scary,” said Eubanks. “Baby Yoda brings a positivity to it all. At the drive, when Carver dropped off Yoda, everyone was really emotional when they read the note.”
A medic brought Baby Yoda to the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorago, where he visited Incident Commander Dave Gesser’s crew. “Baby Yoda’s arrival to the Cameron Peak Fire lifted team moral significantly,” Gesser reported. “It has been a long fire season… word spread quickly around the incident command post and people were literally lining up to get a selfie with Baby Yoda.”
Added Eubanks: “Since Yoda’s a morale booster, I’m getting tons of messages from first responders asking when it’s their turn to get Baby Yoda. Members of the National Guard even thanked me and I was like, ‘What? You are the heroes, not me!’”
Eubanks thinks people are drawn to the story of the traveling Baby Yoda for a few reasons.
“It’s a combination of those who want to support first responders, and Baby Yoda humanizes them,” she said. “It makes you think, oh, these are the people doing this job, putting out fires and saving lives. Yoda brings light into it all.”