A simple act of kindness is crossing borders and lifting spirits after a 5-year-old added a very special item to a donation pile. Tyler Eubanks, from Oregon, was organizing a drive in the towns of Molalla and Colton, thinking she would compile basic essentials like food and socks to pass along to firefighters and other first responders fighting the wildfires raging across the western United States. Resident Sasha Tinning took her grandson, Carver, to shop for donation items, and he thought that our frontline workers could use more than the basics; he chose to donate a Baby Yoda doll.
The character from Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” has become a celebrity in its own right, with themed toys selling out immediately across the country after it was introduced during season 1 of the show last year. Carver, sensing that The Child could be a source of comfort, included a note along with his gift: “Thank You Firefighters. Here is a friend for you in case you get lonely.”
“What’s happening with these fires is quite scary,” Eubanks told TODAY. “Baby Yoda brings a positivity to it all. At the drive, when Carver dropped off Yoda, everyone was really emotional when they read the note.”
Since Baby Yoda’s donation, the doll has become the hottest commodity among firefighters and medics throughout the western U.S. Groups of first responders have passed it off to others to share the sense of cheer and community that they’ve gotten from it. Baby Yoda’s travels have been documented on a Facebook page, and he's moved around through Oregon, Utah and Colorado since September.
“The smallest gift of kindness goes a long way,” said Mike Lewelling, fire management officer at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, to TODAY. "This has been a very long and stressful fire season and many firefighters are away from their families for weeks, and even months.” He added that the doll -- plus Carver’s note -- “puts a smile on even the toughest of firefighters out there.”
Incident Commander Dave Gesser reported that Baby Yoda “lifted team moral significantly” when he arrived at the Cameron Peak fire team’s base in Colorado. “Word spread quickly around the incident command post, and people were literally lining up to get a selfie with Baby Yoda.”
From the mountains to the sky, Baby Yoda is continuing to make moves across the country. He most recently joined the crew aboard the Colorado Division of Fire’s Multi-Mission Aircraft to do some infrared imaging and mapping on the Williams Fork, Middle Fork, Cameron Peak and Mullen fires across Colorado and Wyoming. And yes, he received his wings.
At this point, firefighters are reaching out to Eubanks to ask when they will get a chance to hang out with Baby Yoda -- even the National Guard wants in.
“It’s a combination of those who want to support first responders, and Baby Yoda humanizes them,” she said. “It makes you think, oh, these are the people doing this job, putting out fires and saving lives. Yoda brings light into it all.”