Donations arrive from Indianapolis for farmers, pet owners affected by train derailment

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people carry donated items out of a trailer
Kayla Miller and Chase Brown carry donated items out of a trailer at Brown's farm he runs with his fiance, Kaylee Ball, in Salem, Ohio. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

SALEM, Ohio — The trucks rolled up shortly after 1 p.m. to Freedom Ranch, a horse stable north of Salem, Ohio.

One pulled an enclosed trailer packed full of bags of dog food, cat food, kitty litter and other supplies. Another truck had a flatbed trailer loaded with square bales of straw and hay. Yet another flatbed trailer held wrapped pallets of various animal feeds.

In all, 17 tons of feed, hay, straw and supplies for livestock, pets and animals were delivered March 11 to Kaylee Ball and Chase Brown’s farm. The couple had taken in horses and dogs evacuated from around East Palestine, following the train derailment and subsequent chemical burn last month.

Their kindness was featured as part of a story in the Feb. 9 issue of Farm and Dairy titled “Community steps in to help farmers near East Palestine train derailment.

That’s what led Lisa Hilbert and Susie Keller to them. Hilbert, Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, had been following the East Palestine train derailment story from afar. She was concerned for people who had pets or livestock who have been impacted by the derailment and by evacuations. Her brother-in-law, Tim McCalla, has family from the East Palestine area.

“I just felt it was very important that people didn’t forget there is another side to the story, not just the human side” she said. Hilbert lives in the suburbs of now, but she grew up in a small town in rural Indiana.

“I would hope somebody would do this for my small town if it happened,” she said.

Hilbert recruited her friend Keller to help her gather up donations or figure out logistics for the trip. They tried to go through official channels, but ran into difficulties.

“If I’d gone through a charity, we’d still have been waiting weeks,” Hilbert said.

So they turned to Google and eventually landed on the Farm and Dairy story. Ball answered right away when the women called to pitch their idea to bring donations to the area and offered up her farm to store everything while it was distributed.

Kaylee Ball, Lisa Hilbert and Susie Keller stand together for a photo while supplies and feed are unloaded at Ball’s Freedom Ranch, outside Salem, Ohio. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

For Ball, it was a natural extension of what she’d already been doing. When she saw what was happening in East Palestine, she wanted to help because “if I was in their situation, I would want to know there’s someone out there who could help and would help.”

Hilbert and Keller and their band of volunteer drivers left the Indianapolis area around 7 a.m. March 11 to make the trek across Ohio to Ball’s farm in Mahoning County. They hugged Ball tightly after making it to Freedom Ranch in the afternoon.

When the trucks arrived in Salem, an assortment of friends, family and other volunteers sprang into action to get the trucks unloaded. Farmers Equipment donated a skid loader to help unload the pallets of supplies.

Some of the donations were picked up for distribution that day. For those who need supplies or feed, call or text Ball at 419-571-1764.

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be reached at 724-201-1544 or rachel@farmandddairy.com.)

Donated items available

  • Square bales of hay
  • Square bales of straw
  • Lamb feed
  • Goat/sheep feed
  • Beef cattle feed
  • Sweet feed
  • Chicken layer pellets
  • Oats
  • Beet pulp pellets
  • Pelletized bedding
  • Various brands of dry dog food
  • Canned cat & dog food
  • Dog and cat treats
  • Dog beds
  • Dog bones
  • Cat litter
  • Salt blocks
  • Mineral blocks
  • Himalayan salt licks
  • Buckets
  • Troughs
  • Water

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