chopping wood

A father and his sons cut wood to fill 80 trucks. Then they brought it to homes that needed heat.

Shane McDaniel became famous in 2018 for the best reason. The single father and his sons cut wood to give away for free to heat homes through the winter. This act turned into months of helping families in need. However, it all began as a family-bonding event. 

McDaniel, the owner of Norm’s Market-Keg & Bottleshop in Lake Stevens, became interested in wood-chopping to connect with his father who died from cancer in 2013. McDaniel and his dad, a PUD retiree, used to cut wood together when McDaniel was a child. Now the tradition passed to McDaniel and his sons, Henry and Harrison, both aged 21. 

Since the point of their activity was bonding, the wood didn’t go to any real use. It began to pile up around the house. At that point, they realized that they could help so many people. 

Father and His Sons Cut Wood to Give to Homes in Need

“I had a lot of wood I had to cut because of storm damage and trees that were taken down. It just kept piling up and piling up,” McDaniel recalled. “Once it got to be such an amount of wood we decided we could do something better with it.” [1] 

The enormous pile of firewood became obvious to anyone passing by their house. As the cold weather seeped in, people came asking to buy the wood to heat their homes. Central heating is costly, and using fire for heat could really help temper the expenses for families in need. 

The Pacific Northwest is a pretty rugged area, it’s cold and wet. Once I started, I saw the need, and my eyes were opened up,” McDaniel said. “So many people were stopping and asking to buy it and we just started giving it away.”  

In just eight months, the trio had amassed enough firewood to fill 80 trucks. So McDaniel made a post on Facebook, reaching out to anyone who wanted it.  

PLEASE HELP HEAT OUR HOOD! FIREWOOD DELIVERIES START TOMORROW! FIREWOOD DONATIONS ARE BEING ACCEPTED AT NORMS MARKET IN…

Posted by Shane McDaniel on Thursday, November 8, 2018

If you know someone who BURNS WOOD, and their looking at a cold house this holiday season…then please help us help them,” he wrote. “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… The Norms crew is standing by ready to help stack and deliver… 

 “So please….help me and my boys find the right homes that need heat and make sure NO ONE GOES COLD IN OUR HOOD this holiday season.” 

Read: I’ve slept in cardboard boxes, vans and trucks. Now I live with my three dogs in a 25-foot sailboat

Giving Back to the Community

Some people doubted his initiative, saying “who burns firewood anymore?” As if to prove them wrong, McDaniel received 10,000 messages just a week after the post. 

He and his sons delivered wood to so many homes they lost count. Some low-income families have to buy less food during the winter so they could afford heating. Receiving wood can change their entire winter experience. [2] 

The father was proud to see the positive effect of the good deed on Henry and Harrison. 

It’s a pretty wonderful thing to see. You can just see this feeling of pride and sharing that I don’t think they had before,” McDaniel said. 

Harrison himself said, “It is shocking to see what kind of living situations people have and how this affects them. We want this to be bigger someday. It is important to get more people taken care of.” 

Henry added, “It feels good to get out there and give back in the heart of it, where people really need it.” 

Heating Homes and Hearts

Kindness spread. People began dropping off more logs when the McDaniel’s stash began dwindling with more homes in need.

Abby Valentine, 42, was one of the first to reply to McDaniel’s offer. The temperatures had dropped significantly and winter’s chill began to enter her homes. 

My home is really old and very cold,” said Valentine. “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.” 

Valentine was just one of the many people helped that harsh 2018 winter. According to McDaniel, connecting with different people was one of the best parts of the project. 

When you do good things for people, they don’t forget,” he said. “I love helping people. It’s the strangers that you’ve helped.” 

Chopping Wood for Next Winter

Rest assured, the project didn’t end there. The father and his sons cut wood for the next year as well. They successfully continued into 2019 and 2020 with the help of volunteers. They’ve managed to heat the homes of cancer victims, veterans, widows, the elderly, the disabled, and struggling families across Western Washington. McDaniel’s only regret is not beginning this initiative sooner. 

I never knew there was a need at all,” he said. “The biggest regret is that I didn’t start doing this a long time ago.” [3] 

However, his generosity doesn’t end with firewood. McDaniel also gives away electric mobility scooters to those in need. [4] 

Keep Reading: A 7-year-old boy went back into a burning home to save his baby sister

References: 

  1. Father and Twin Sons Cut Enough Firewood to Fill 80 Trucks — and Deliver It to Families in Need!” People. Char Adams. December 28, 2018 
  2. “Heat or Eat? Cold-Weather Shocks and Nutrition in Poor American Families.” American Journal of Public Health. Jayanta Bhattacharya, MD, PhD, Thomas DeLeire, PhD, Steven Haider, PhD, and Janet Currie, PhD.July 2003. 
  3. “For local families who can’t afford heat, this man’s help means everything.” Today. Laura Ratliff. February 17, 2019. 
  4. “Giving away firewood put these guys in the global spotlight.” Herald Net. Andrea Brown. January 22, 2019.