During the summer of 2018, Shane McDaniel and his two adult sons chopped more firewood than most people will ever see in their lifetime.
Shane, a small business owner from Lake Stevens, Washington, initially started cutting wood to deal with a large number of downed trees on his property. But as the piles of wood grew, an idea began to form in Shane’s mind about the best use for the fuel he’d amassed.
The log pile grew to be the size of a wall, totaling 40 cords in all, and soon passersby were stopping to inquire about buying a cord or two. Although the market value of this amount of wood is close to $10,000, every time someone asked if it was for sale, Shane and his 21-year-old twin sons, Harrison and Henry, told them no.
“We politely told them none of it was for sale, and they’d look at us like we were crazy,” said Harrison.
Instead, when the weather turned bitterly cold during an early cold snap in November, Shane dusted off a Facebook account he hadn’t used in years and posted a few pictures of the wood. Asserting that “no one goes cold in our hood this holiday season,” Shane posted the following message to his neighbors:
“We had our first big freeze now and that’s why this is so important. If you know someone who BURNS WOOD, and their looking at a cold house this holiday season; maybe someone elderly or with small children in the house…then please help us help them. My boys and I have cut & split nearly 40 cords of firewood this summer. It is seasoned and ready to warm homes where it is truly needed. It is more firewood than most people have ever seen, as I’m sure anyone who has driven past my house has noticed. The Norms crew is standing by ready to help stack and deliver. Please remember it’s not for sale at any price. We get lots of offers. Too much blood and sweat to do that.”
Normally a cord of wood that has been cut, split, and delivered to your doorway runs about $400, and since millions of Americans rely solely on wood heat in winter, the McDaniels knew their hard work would amount to a tremendous blessing for a lot of people. What they didn’t realize at the time was that Shane’s Facebook post would take off, inspiring a wave of donations, pleas for help, and publicity that swept from coast to coast.
Shane is a single father of six kids, so he understands how difficult it can be to make it through a long, cold winter. He and his sons immediately set to work delivering the cords of wood to hundreds of people who didn’t have money to heat their homes. A local chimney sweep company soon stepped up to offer their services too, cleaning out the chimneys of all who received a free cord to avoid dangerous creosote build-up that can lead to chimney fires.
“To get that much wood and the chimney sweep brought me to tears,” said single mom Katelyn Ticer, who received a free cord. “So much stress and anxiety for my daughter is off my shoulders. I couldn’t be more thankful.”
“My home is really old and very cold,” agreed Abby Valentine, a Seattle resident who says the McDaniel’s wood delivery was one of the best things that happened to her all year. “With the help of the wood for my fireplace, we can cut back on using the heat. I try to save as much as I can, but if my home is way too cold I have to use it because I don’t want my kids getting sick.”
Some recipients seemed less than thankful when Shane and his sons pulled up to unload their precious cargo, but Shane understands that pride goeth before the fall.
“Some still just say, ‘Thanks… put it over there,’ and walk back in their house and never say another word or even come back out,” said Shane. “But I’m okay with that. Giving is the reward — it has nothing to do with how well it’s received, but it’s about how much it’s needed.”
Shane’s Facebook inbox is still flooded with requests, and he’s been inspired to cut more wood for the needy next season. Dozens of volunteers have offered to lend their helping hands to the wood drive next year, and the McDaniel’s hope to expand their reach even further with help from their community. Thanks to the donation of new log splitters, the McDaniel clan hopes to cut 100 cords next year — minimum.
“I had no intention of doing this every year,” Shane said. “But read through my messages, and you’ll understand.”
It truly does take a village, and Shane is a shining example of the kind of generosity we hope to see more of in 2019. Thank you Shane, Harrison, and Henry for all you’ve done to keep the home fires burning this winter.
Please share this story to encourage more people to think like Shane and give to others whenever you have the chance.
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