FRESNO, Calif. - A Fresno woman who works for a family vineyard in the fire zone found a creative way to use her own skills to help friends and neighbors.
Even from the comfort of her own home, Kasandra Brooks is never far from the vineyards of Mendocino County. Brooks works remotely for her family's 105-year-old Testa Vineyards.
And when the massive wildfires started spreading through wine country, her dog Bentley seemed to know. He stuck his nose in her bed at 2 a.m. and woke her up, which led to some social media exploration and Kasandra's discovery that trouble was brewing close to home.
"Thankfully, they've been able to stay safe and out of harm," she said of her family. "The fire got really close to our furthest ranch."
Photos show smoke billowing through the cabernet sauvignon grapes at Testa, but they avoided the fate of several neighbors who lost most everything. Her brother and sister had to evacuate for a few days, though, as the fire came within about 1 miles of their home.
"Very scary, especially for myself being here in Fresno and kind of feeling a little bit helpless," Brooks said. "It was very scary for me because I wanted to be there and to be able to help."
So she set out to help from a distance. She'd already discussed creating t-shirts with her sister Kortney, a graphic designer for the vineyard.
Now, their Basik label is selling seven designs to raise money for their friends and neighbors.
"It's a great way for people to help and to show their support and wear their support literally on their sleeves," Kasandra said.
In the first two days, they collected about $1600 for fire victims, with orders coming mostly from California, but also Texas, Arizona, Oregon and even New York.
You can find the shirts on a couple websites:
etsy.com or testaranch.com
And all the vineyards say you might really enjoy one of the best ways to help them recover from the damage: Just buy their wine.