Missouri woman driving U-Haul across country to help fire victims
COLUMBIA - A St. Louis woman is headed to California and collecting donations along the way to help the victims of the destructive wildfires.
Heather Bell was in Columbia Sunday night for her first stop of many on a 2,000 mile road trip.
Bell decided on Saturday she was going to rent a U-Haul and drive all the way to Paradise, California because she couldn't just watch anymore.
“I wanted to go help volunteer, to do whatever I could," Bell said.
Bell is planning stops along the way and hopes at each stop she will pack the truck a little fuller.
"I can pick up stuff along the way and I can take myself and a full truck full of things that we can donate, things that they can use," she said.
Columbia resident Maureen Dickmann brought donations to Bell at her Columbia stop on Sunday.
“At least I can do what I can for her and give her some support, so that’s why I wanted to get out here and encourage other people to," Dickmann said.
Dickmann has high aspirations for Bell.
“I hope she gets a truck load of stuff and it gets to the folks who need it," she said. "I can imagine it’ll really meet a lot of needs.”
Bell is paying for the trip out of pocket and she's okay with the expense.
“I get to turn around and come home and I still have all of my stuff, so I’m not thinking about that right now," she said.
Once Bell gets to California and drops off the donations, she said she doesn't plan on heading back right away. She said she's there to help.
"No real plan, I don't know how long I’m staying," Bell said. "If they need me for a month, maybe I'll stay for a month. If they don’t need me at all, maybe I’ll turn around and come back."
Bell said she's excited to be able to help out victims in the Golden state.
“If there is just one person sitting there with their head down, if I can tell them a joke or if I can do something, it’ll be worth it," she said.
If you're interested in following Bell's journey, check out her Facebook page, Miles of Miracles.