“I said, ‘The firefighters could use a friend, couldn’t they?’ ” said Tinning, 54, who lives in Scappoose, Ore., about 20 miles north of Portland.
“He would be a very good friend for them,” she recalled Carver saying.
They agreed that volunteer firefighters needed “The Force” more than anyone. So instead of buying granola bars and nuts, they picked up Baby Yoda — also known as the Child — from the popular Star Wars series “The Mandalorian.”
On their way home, they stopped by a donation tent for firefighters with the big-eyed, pointy-eared doll in hand. Tinning helped Carver write a quick note on a piece of scrap paper she found in her car trunk:
“Thank you, firefighters,” it read. “Here is a friend for you, in case you get lonely. Love, Carver.”
Tyler Eubanks, a 34-year-old horse dental technician who was working in the donation booth that afternoon, showed the note and Baby Yoda to a few other volunteers. They all started crying, she said.
“The fires were close to us, and everyone was really high on emotion,” said Eubanks. “We were all really touched that Carver wanted to give a companion to the men and women who were out there risking their lives to fight the wildfires.”
Eubanks brought Baby Yoda to some firefighters who were helping in the effort to contain the 25-acre Unger Road Fire near Colton, Ore. She snapped a few photos of the fire crew with the doll so that she could send them to Carver, and thought that would be the end of it.
“But then the firefighters said, ‘We want to take him with us,’ ” Eubanks said.
So they did. And when they came upon other fire crews and showed off their Baby Yoda, those firefighters asked if they could have him for a while. The answer was yes.
“Before I knew it, Baby Yoda was out there traveling the universe,” Eubanks said.
Eubanks quickly came up with the idea to start a Facebook page — Baby Yoda Fights Fires — to chronicle the adventures of the Child.
More than 26,000 people now follow the page, which is full of photos of Baby Yoda hanging out with firefighters on the front lines of wildfires in Oregon and Colorado, and relaxing in fire base camps.
“I never imagined it would take off like this,” said Eubanks, who put her phone number on Yoda’s back so that firefighters could text her their photos. “People obviously want to hold on to something positive right now.”
“Because of all these photos, people are now seeing the human faces behind the wildfires,” she added. “The attention is giving firefighters a huge morale boost, which is something that’s really needed right now.”
Many of the firefighters are parents who are away from their children, added Tinning.
“Baby Yoda is like a life-size young one, so he really resonates,” she said.
Her grandson’s doll was recently traveling with a fire crew battling the Cameron Peak wildfire in Colorado. Dozens of people are chiming in on Facebook with comments about his smoke-filled adventures.
“I just love seeing these posts — I bet the little guy who donated Baby Yoda to the fire crews had no idea what a great thing he was doing,” wrote a woman from Eugene, Ore.
“Go baby Yoda, go!” wrote another follower.
“Thanks for the update. Little Yoda, bring your charm and good vibes to all fighting the fires in Colorado,” wrote a man from Nevada. “Stay safe and keep the photos coming.”
And he’s off! Go protect the firefighters in Colorado Baby Yoda! #thankyoucarver #babyyodafightsfires #coloradoPosted by Londa VK on Monday, September 28, 2020
Eubanks said she has received dozens of photos from happy firefighters showing Baby Yoda sleeping in a tent, eating breakfast at base camp, flying in an airplane to drop fire retardant, tagging along on the front lines inside a backpack and even supervising a daily fire briefing.
The doll now wears a red-white-and-blue bandanna around its head and has an official firefighters’ shirt, she said.
“Fire crews in California and Canada now want a turn with him, so we’re going to have to arrange that next,” said Eubanks. “And at some point, he may also go down under to Australia to fight fires there this winter.”
“He’s a free agent,” she added.
As for Carver, his grandmother said he’s not a huge “Star Wars” fan but is a “rough and tumble” kid who enjoys the outdoors and appreciates that firefighters are working hard to save forests and homes.
“He’s excited that everyone likes Baby Yoda,” she said. “Carver is happy that the firefighters now have a little friend to give them some comfort.”
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