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.

Heroes
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / Katie Sturino

Plus-size women are in the majority. In America, 68% of women wear a size 14 or higher. Yet many plus-sized are ignored by the fashion industry. Plus-sized clothing is a $21 billion industry, however only one-fifth of clothing sales are plus-sized. On top of that, plus-sized women are often body shamed, further reinforcing that bigger body types are not mainstream despite the fact that it is common.

Plus-size fashion blogger Katie Sturino recently called out her body shamers. Sturino runs the blog, The 12ish Style, showing that plus-sized fashion isn't – and shouldn't be – limited to clothes that hide the body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular