Volunteers organized donations from Friday to Sunday at Townsend Park as part of the Rise Above the Ashes efforts to help wildfire evacuees. (Submitted photo)

Donations being collected for fire victims in Chilliwack

As evacuation centre greets people, Chilliwack finds ways to help

Do not take donations to Chilliwack secondary school.

With wildfire evacuees checking in and moving along at the reception area there, there is plenty of work to be done by Emergency Social Service workers and volunteers. And going through donations, sorting, storing and handing them back out is an onerous job.

But that doesn’t mean Chilliwack residents can’t direct their good intentions, donations, and legwork to the relief efforts. There are plenty of ways to help, from individual donations to Red Cross (who will be supporting evacuees long term) to donating at a designated drop off area.

Murray Honda has become the official drop-off zone for donations of cash, gift cards, water, toiletries and other essentials. They partnered with Chilliwack Restorative Justice, which managed a relief drive at Townsend Park over the weekend.

The weekend was a success, says Restorative Justice’s Leanna Kemp.

“I am beyond overwhelmed, speechless, inspired, amazed and so blessed to be a part of so much kindness, compassion and love for others,” she wrote on the event’s Facebook event page, Rise Above the Ashes. She thanked the baseball community (which was holding a tournament at the park), the business community and the music community for their support.

“Chilliwack came out in full force today with generosity of all kinds,” she added. “Together we raised over $3,500 in cash and gift cards, an abundance of baby necessities, non-perishable food, water, Gatorade, toiletries, blankets and pillows and pet food!”

The original plan was to send those donations up to Kamloops to help there. But when the evacuation centre was opened at CSS on Saturday night, they decided to divert some of the resources there. By Monday morning, they had already sent over $1,400 in supplies and necessities, in addition to $390 to Sto:lo Nation. They are continuing to work through the coming days to get the most effective donations to CSS, while planning the trip up to the Interior.

In the meantime, the container with the donations will remain at Murray Honda, where it was moved after the weekend.

“We are working closely with Chilliwack Emergency Services and other relief centres to get what is needed where the most,” Kemp said.

The items still of need are gas cards, Walmart or Superstore gift cards, baby food, formula and diapers, non-perishable food items, power drinks, and water.

Over the weekend, Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the immediate needs of the evacuees are being met. And while she understands the desire to help, she says that no donations are needed at the centre at this point.

“Many don’t know the condition of their house or what they will need when they return home,” she said.

“Please continue to donate funds to the Red Cross, as this organization will be involved after the evacuees return home and assess their needs. Donations can be made in person on Monday to the Red Cross in Chilliwack at 9290 Mary St.”

Music at work

All of the bands performing at last Friday’s Party in the Park also gave up their nightly fee to donate to the relief fund, in some cases even adding extra to the cause. Trevor McDonald, emcee for Party in the Park, said they donated about $2,000 in total in cash and gift cards at the end of the night.

Hay donations

TNT Hay and Cattle Sales in Chilliwack donated 600 bales of Timothy hay to farmers and ranchers affected by the fires.

“Just send us a message explaining your situation and we can coordinate pick up,” they wrote on their Facebook page.

Namaste

Studio B Yoga in Garrison will be offering a series of by donation yoga classes from July 18-24 to help raise awareness and collect funds to pass along to The Red Cross.

“We are a small business that has a platform, team and community that can help,” they said. “We are still organizing details but expect to see several regular scheduled classes to be by donation with 100 per cent of the proceeds being donated.”

Class information is available on their Facebook page or by phoning 604-846-5225.

Creative tips

Musician Trevor McDonald was blown away by the support of local diners. At his regular Tuesday gig at the Cultus Lake Beach Club, he generally puts out a tip jar for theChilliwack Bowls of Hope. But this week, he decided to raise money for the people and animals in B.C.’s interior.

They donated $600 to the cause.

“Amazing generosity from really beautiful people who are just there to order dinner!!!” he enthused on Facebook. “My heart is FULL! BRAVO!”

Animal care

Pauline Whipple has already been up to Kamloops with one pickup truck load of pet supplies, and is eager to go again.

“I did it because I can,” the Chilliwack cab driver said. “I’m not as worried about the people so much but I’m worried about the fur babies.”

She loaded her truck with about $1,000 in pet food and supplies and delivered it to the SPCA care unit at Thompson Rivers University. She is asking that people who want to donate supplies for her next trip up, bring it to the Restorative Justice drop off mentioned above.

Student power

Middle school and high school students from across Chilliwack want to do something to help. They are holding a Stuff A Truck on Saturday July 22 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Central Community Church (46100 Chilliwack Central Rd.) The event is being planned by the Central Community Church Student Ministry, in conjunction with the Chilliwack Salvation Army.

They are asking for canned food items, pop top cans, diapers and wipes, toiletries, gift cards, water, power drinks, and cash. There will also be a barbecue by donationgoing directly to those in need.

For more information or a list of things needed contact Pastor Jon at jonathan@central365.org.

Text donations

Those who want to help are also able to donate to the Red Cross. Donations will help provide immediate relief such as cots, blankets, family reunification and financial assistance for food, clothing and personal needs, according to the Red Cross. You can text FIRES to 45678 to donate $10, and it will be added to your phone bill.

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