As Northern Albertan communities continue to grapple with the impact of the Fort McMurray wildfires, Chartwell Cedarbrooke Retirement Residence and local organizations have banded together to try to ease feelings of helplessness and instill hope.
An outpouring of donations
The residence coordinated a “Stuff the Bus for Fort Mac” charity event in Mission back in May to help relief efforts. A 53-foot transport trailer was filled wall-to-wall with new clothing, basic cleaning items, toiletries, pet food, water and baby care items to be donated to the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services distribution centre, which will then ensure the items are used for relief efforts. Other collected items included new socks and underwear, dentures, continence products, bedding and gift cards for gasoline and supermarkets.
Chartwell Cedarbrooke partnered with SaveOn Foods to run the event, which was held in the SaveOn parking lot. In addition to the items packed in the bus, $1,089 was raised through hot dog sales and gift card donations. The funds were used to buy SaveOn gift certificates for Edmonton Emergency Relief Services.
Community members came out to support the event and share their time and services. Local organizations including Mr. Pet’s, Hillside Traditional Academy, Mission City Record, District of Mission Parks, Recreation & Culture and 107.1 FM helped collect items and spread the word. ZZ Chrome, Effin Shiny and J&B Trucking provided logistics, storage and transport service. Some 10 volunteers also came out to help pack the bus.
Not only was Chartwell’s trailer completely filled of items, but there were enough donations to also pack another 53-foot vehicle to the brim, reports the Mission City Record.
Historic relief efforts
More than 80,000 residents were forced to evacuate Fort McMurray after the fires destroyed nearly 10 per cent of the city in early May, according to The Globe and Mail. Thousands of residents have returned to their homes since June 1, however there is still much work to be done. More than 2,400 firefighters have been deployed, and dire improvements are needed to much of the area’s infrastructure to make it safe to return.
Chartwell staff and residents across the country have donated to the Red Cross to support those affected by the Fort McMurray fire, reflecting a historic outpouring of national support taking place. In fact, so far Canadians have raised $102 million for Red Cross relief efforts, which is the largest amount ever raised for the Canadian Red Cross.