Eric's Heroes: Meet "Robin Wood" who takes from the forest and gives to the poor
LAKE STEVENS, Wash. -- There's a store in Lake Stevens that has a giant rooster inside, and kegs, and corn dogs...and is home to 1,700 kinds of beer.
It's called Norm's Keg and Bottle, and might be the most interesting store in the world. Out front is a sign that says "now accepting firewood donations."
That was Shane McDaniel's idea, and he been a busy boy. To bring an axe crashing down onto chunks of wood, splitting them into two is clean, back-breaking work.
But there is something satisfying, and honest, and true about the work.
McDaniel, his sons and some friends have been cutting wood for months.
"I couldn't even tell you (how much)," McDaniel said. "I've gone through more chainsaw blades than I have in a lifetime. But it took about 8-months of hard work; it's about 40 cords that we did, starting in March and finishing in September."
And they didn't use a log splitter. Just an axe.
You need some serious bark on your hide to chop that much wood. Harrison and Henry, Shane's twin boys, don't complain.
"It's anytime we get spare time," Harrison McDaniel said. "It could be we chop wood all week and take the weekend off, or chop wood all weekend and take the week off. But it's been almost non-stop."
Henry adds: "It could be 15 minutes, 20 minutes, before dinner, after dinner..."
Chopping that much wood gets you the kind of six-pack you can't buy at Norm's Keg and Bottle. But here's what's funny: The wood isn't for sale. At any price.
"I put a post out saying that we wanted to give the firewood away," Shane McDaniel said. "We've had lots of offers to buy it, but there is no amount of money that would be worth swinging that axe 8,000... 8-million times. But donating it? That's totally different."
He pledged to give it all away, and his Facebook post blew up. It was shared thousands of times, and then the stories started pouring in.
At the store, Haylie gets chills when she reads messages from people who fear the coming cold.
"There's a lot of sad stories," she said. "People that are sick, elderly... that have no other options."
Shane said, "when I read these stories, it brings me to tears."
It takes a lot to make woodchoppers bawl.
Shane and the boys fire up the trucks, and they hit the road.
The first stop is Elizabeth's home -- she's in her 80s and living alone. The boys form a line like a fire bucket brigade, and they fill up her shed.
"It was definitely needed," Elizabeth said. "Right now, I've been cold because I didn't have a lot of wood."
The next day, there's a full delivery on schedule, including a mother who is 32 weeks pregnant and another mother who is disabled.
'We're going to go to Granite Falls, then we're going to head to Monroe, then Snohomish, then Edmonds..." Shane said.
How much wood can a wood chucker chuck? Enough to get somebody like Ken Jones through the winter.
"Boy, I tell you, this is a godsend," he said.
And Fred Yakalucci too -- more warmth for a guy who's having a rough go of it.
"It's a blessing from God, I believe," Yakalucci said.
And so it goes, on to Marie Bauer's place.
"You guys are amazzzzing!" she said. "Thank you!"
No amount of money could make the work they did pay off. This idea; this dream was never about money. It was about warmth and soul.
Shane McDaniel takes wood from the forest and gives it to the poor. He is "Robin Wood" of Lake Stevens, with his band of merry men.
There is something satisfying, and honest, and true about the whole bunch of them.