Organization collecting equipment and supplies for agricultural workers during the summer heat

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Recent weather in Treasure Valley has yet to feel like summer, but temperatures will eventually warm up.

Before that, the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance is trying to gather as many supplies as possible for farmworkers in the state who are subject to extreme temperatures and have few resources to obtain the materials themselves.

ARII co-organizer Irene Ruiz is a former farm worker and knows what it’s like to work hard. She worked in the fields for 12 years.

“These are very low wages, these are not $15 an hour jobs,” Ruiz said. “So a lot of the money we ended up getting was for rent, food and groceries.”

Along with the low pay, Ruiz says it’s not the type of job where someone can take a sick day or vacation and expect to get paid, leading many workers to overcome the heat exhaustion.

“If you can’t get on the pitch, you won’t get paid, period,” Ruiz said. “Even if they feel dizzy or sick, they know that if they stop working they won’t get paid.”

New fund

After two farmworkers from Oregon and Washington died last summer of heat-related causes, Ruiz helped start the Heat and Smoke Farmworker Relief Fund for farmworkers in Idaho. The fund raised $24,000 last year.

Now in its second year, here are the necessities: bottled water and sports drinks, athletic coolers with spouts, straw hats, bandanas, cooling scarves, reusable ice packs and sunscreen. Anyone wishing to donate money can do so here.

“Without the farm workers, we wouldn’t have food on our table, we wouldn’t have food in our grocery stores,” Ruiz said. “It is important that they are seen as human beings who deserve respect and need to be protected.”

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