By Kamala Kirk
Foothills Focus Contributing Writer
While driving through Canyon Creek on the Saturday of the Ocotillo Fire, Carefree resident Jane Spicer noticed horse trailers lined up on the road. She was immediately overcome with emotion.
“I’d been sad about our country and the way that people had been treating each other,” Spicer said. “But on this day, I saw people coming together to help each other. It brought tears to my eyes.”
Two days later, she read on Facebook that Black Mountain Feed Store in Cave Creek had burned down. Spicer, who founded Daphne’s Headcovers when she was 16, knew she had to help those who had been affected by the fires. She began thinking about ways she could pitch in.
“I just knew I wouldn’t be at peace with myself until I had done something to help,” she said. “I can’t put out fires, but I know how to make and sell stuff. I called my staff, asked them to help me find a screen printer, and we started discussing T-shirt designs. By the end of the day I approved a design and we had 250 shirts made.”
On the front of the shirt, the words “Cave Creek Strong” were featured above the state of Arizona, while the back had the same words over the state flag, which was transformed into the shape of a heart.
“Seeing everyone band together to help one another is what inspired ‘Cave Creek Strong,’” Spicer pointed out. “Arizona’s flag is beautiful, so I made it into a heart to represent the collective outpouring of love from the community.”
Spicer reached out to a firefighter friend in Cave Creek who knew the owner of Big Earl’s Greasy Eats, and two days later, she was selling the T-shirts she’d made at a June 3 fundraising event at the restaurant. The shirts were a hit and, in less than two hours, Spicer sold all 250 of them at the cost of a $20 donation each, raising over $5,000.
“We donated 100% of the proceeds from the shirts to benefit families that were affected by the fire,” Spicer said. “Big Earl’s was super kind and donated 50% of all their sales to the same cause. Their owner, Brooke Dallas, is a dynamic and lovely person. The feedback was great, and everybody loved the shirts. People were very gracious and thanked me. My heart was starting to feel better.”
A few days later on June 6, Spicer had more shirts made and participated in “Creekers Helping Creekers—Fire Fundraiser” hosted by Local Jonny’s Eatery and Drinkery. The free event included dinner and drinks, as well as booths selling merchandise. Spicer sold another 250 shirts and raised an additional $5,000 to help community members displaced by the fire. The event included an ongoing silent auction put on by Cool Cats Rescue with all proceeds going to the relief effort.
“The original idea was just to host a free takeout dinner for anyone who was displaced from their homes and anyone who volunteered their time and money to the relief effort,” said Lauren VanWinkle, who owns Local Jonny’s with her husband, Jon Oughterson.
“After coming up with the original idea, many people reached out to offer help, and the simple dinner snowballed into a huge fundraising effort. We love Cave Creek and all our neighbors. The day of the Ocotillo Fire was devastating to so many, and it was heartbreaking seeing our friends and family suffer loss and uncertainty. We are grateful for the support we received during the COVID-19 shutdown, and we were honored to be able to give back somehow by hosting this very special event.”
When Spicer sold out of her T-shirts at the event, people began buying them off each other’s backs for $100 each, which they then donated to the fundraiser. Spicer is planning on making one more round of T-shirts, which will be available for sale at Local Jonny’s soon to raise more money for the victims of the fire.
“My heart feels better for sure,” Spicer said. “During these times, we all need to hold hands and lift each other up—not fight and hurt one another. I’m just a neighbor who needed to do something kind and support the people around me, so I did.”