KERNVILLE, Calif. (KGET) – Signs and gestures of gratitude are appearing all over the Kern River Valley, illustrating the immense appreciation people have for the firefighters who put their lives on the line fighting the French Fire.
The heartwarming acts of kindness is the reaction from people that now able to come back home after facing the possibility of losing their home.
Erin Griffith has worked as a hairstylist for over 20 years and she works at Kernville Barbershop, she felt compelled to thank fire crews by offering free haircuts.
“I don’t want to charge them,” said Griffith. “They saved so many homes for the community that it’s the least that we can do, getting a haircut makes you feel comfortable.”
From haircuts to hot meals, this how communities in and around the Kern River Valley are showing their gratitude to fire crews who helped them during a time where residents felt helpless.
“You know it’s hot out there and it’s an extremely hard job that they do out there,” said Griffith. “A lot of people don’t realize that and if they are going back to their camp, sleeping in a tent and being miserable, it’s the least that we can do.”
Across the street from Kernville Barbershop, Cheryl’s Diner serves hungry residents and visitors to the small mountain community, lately their clientele has been frontline firefighters.
“When it’s the end of their meal I tell them, your check has been taken care of,” said Sandi Johnstone, a veteran waitress at Cheryl’s.
The diner started a fund after an Alta Sierra resident, who had just returned home after evacuations, donated $200 to pay for the meals of fire crews.
“What started off her little seed of 200-dollars,” said Johnstone. “Which was phenomenal itself that she thought of others in her time that she would do that turned into $6,000 at one point and we were able to feed all personnel.”
Kindness is contagious, other local eateries like the Pizza Barn as well as the Kern River Brewing Company have established funds that anyone can donate to cover meals for those still at the frontlines.
“We had customers that were eating here that would say, we want to pay for their meals,” said Johnstone. “We would tell them they were already paid for and they would tell us let us donate to your fund.”
Fire crews are overwhelmed with the amount of kindness that they’ve received, giving them a morale boost at the frontline.
“His eyes watered up and told me how appreciative he was,” said Griffith. “That this is the nicest community he’s been to, that everywhere he turned someone was trying to make their day better.”