Who do firefighters call when they need help? A group of amazing moms.

The massive fire in north-central Washington just became the largest wildfire in the state's history.

This scorcher, known as the Okanogan Complex, was measured at 400 square miles, which is about two and a half times the size of Seattle.



Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images.

And since it's only August and dry conditions are likely to continue, the fire is showing no signs of slowing.

Firefighters and first responders working to slow the blaze are getting a boost from a few brave volunteers known as "The Soup Ladies."

There are over 1,200 firefighters and first responders on the front lines of the Okanogan Complex. Now, they're joined by The Soup Ladies, a group of Washington-based volunteers, many of them moms and grandmothers, who prepare home-cooked meals for first responders during emergencies and natural disasters at no cost.

The Soup Ladies support first responders at the Okanogan Complex. Photo by The Soup Ladies.

"The Soup Ladies are working out of a commercial kitchen in the general area and disbursing food to crews," volunteer Sheila Lein told Upworthy. "Yesterday, the First Responders enjoyed Italian Chicken Cacciatore, slow-simmered beef stroganoff and fresh peach crisp." YUM.

The Soup Ladies started in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, when volunteer Ginger "Mama" Passarelli noticed there weren't any organizations helping the helpers.

So Passarelli traveled to the Gulf Coast to volunteer with her church group to help look after the emergency personnel.

Photo by The Soup Ladies.

According to Lein, who relayed to Upworthy what Passarelli saw in Katrina's aftermath, the emergency personnel were working long hours in extreme heat and "only munching on granola bars from their pockets, if they were lucky enough to have them."

"Right then and there," Lein says, "The Soup Ladies organization was born and we have been dedicated to the well-being of our First Responders ever since."

The Soup Ladies travel across the country, delivering comfort foods to men and women on the front lines.

They have supported first responders in their home state for nearly 10 years, during search-and-rescue missions, standoffs, and natural disasters. But their goodwill doesn't end there.


Funded solely by personal donations and the volunteers themselves, teams of Soup Ladies traveled to New York after Hurricane Sandy and to Oklahoma in the wake of devastating tornados. During the five-day trip to Oklahoma, a crew of four Soup Ladies churned out 13,000 meals!

Ginger Passarelli and an NYPD officer after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Photo by The Soup Ladies.

Thanks to their hard work, they're well-known to police and fire agencies across the country. As Lein told Upworthy, "When disasters and critical incidents arise, the agency leads know that one phone call will bring the Soup Ladies as quickly as possible."

For the volunteers, it's all about showing gratitude and keeping the first responders safe.

According to Lein, many of the volunteers have personal ties to fire personnel or law enforcement, so they consider each first responder a member of their great big extended family. For them, making and serving comfort food is the best way to say thanks.

Photo by The Soup Ladies.

"We truly believe that bringing home-style meals to the first responders will keep them safer," Lein told Upworthy. "The meals are generally served with a good grandma-style hug and the workers go back into the field knowing we care."

It's a nice reminder that everyone can be a hero to someone else.

As the Okanogan Complex rages on, I'm grateful for the brave crews that face danger head-on and the hardworking volunteers who support them, whenever and wherever.

Photo by The Soup Ladies.

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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

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Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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