Arlington man collects gear for first responders, families

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 10:45 PM

It's just the latest in a string of random acts of kindness we've witnessed in Oso and the surrounding communities: an Arlington father and former firefighter, collecting coats, gloves, gaiters, and gear for search crews who haven't given up.

Brandon McNally first volunteered his services at the site of the landslide.  It is there that he met relatives of Billy Spillers, who is still missing along with two of his children.  A third, five-year-old Kaylee, was found dead in the debris.  Her brother, four-year-old Jacob, was rescued by a helicopter crew.

"Knowing their kids are the same age as my kids, that's where I made the personal connection with them," said McNally.  "It just stuck a chord with me.  This is my small part, but what I feel I can do."

McNally, who is a frequent camper and climber, called one of the companies from which he often buys gear, and asked if they had any items they could donate to the cause.

He says the response was overwhelming.

"Today what we're doing is sorting through all the gear that Outdoor Research gave us," he said.  "Probably thousands or tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear here."

The jackets, gloves, gaiters, and hats are barely-used merchandise that were returned to the company and couldn't be sold. McNally picked up several boxes of it from the Seattle store, and spent Monday afternoon sorting through it at his Arlington home.

McNally's hope is that first responders and search crews will be able to use a lot of it.  He also wants to give some of the coats to surviving family members who lost their homes and everything they owned on Steelhead Drive.

McNally once volunteered as a firefighter in Snohomish County.  He says he saw a lot of devastation during those years with the fire department, but nothing compares to what he saw on the site of the landslide.

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