News / Calgary

Calgary grassroots groups to give items to Fort McMurray evacuees in need

A weekend-long event has been set up to connect people from the Wood Buffalo area with the things they need

Trish Mills stands in her garage, filled to the brim with items for Fort McMurray evacuees.

Jennifer Friesen/ for Metro

Trish Mills stands in her garage, filled to the brim with items for Fort McMurray evacuees.

These Calgary groups aren’t hoarders – they’re actually lending a helping hand to Fort McMurray evacuees in need of the essentials: a change of clothes, a new pair of shoes, a toy and most importantly, hugs.

This weekend, after pounding the pavement since the evacuation began, three Facebook group initiatives will finally have a centralized spot close to wildfire evacuees to dole out spoils from countless donation drive initiatives.

“We joined forces, started talking and planning, and this is what it came to,” said Trish Mills, one of the volunteers behind the effort. “Everybody wants this so badly, everybody wants to be able to help. The evacuees want the help.”

Mills said group members go on site to ask evacuees what they need, and then try and fulfil that.

On Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. groups will drive their fleets of supplied U-Haul’s to the Max Bell Arena to hand out goods and connect people with items they may be needing.

Sheila Rougeau, a spokeswoman working with the City of Calgary’s Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) said they’re meeting all of the evacuees’ immediate needs.

“We really want to support the great grassroots initiatives and coming together; everybody wants to help and it’s really honourable,” Rougeau said. “While we really appreciate the outpouring of generosity, we have been encouraging cash donations to charitable organizations, because that way the money will be allocated directly to evacuees.”

Rougeau added they want groups to know that evacuees may not have the space to store additional items right now, and may not be able to take things home with them when they do return to Fort McMurray.

“They are so appreciative, so thankful, so in need of things,” Mills said. The members behind this initiative have garages and homes full of items and although it’s incredibly overwhelming they are willing to take on the challenge. “It feels good to help and see what we’re doing – that it’s just worth it.”

For more information visit the Facebook groups behind the event: Calgary Helps Fort McMurray and Area, Calgary Helps YMM and YYC Helping YMM Fire Evacuees. Donations won’t be accepted at the event, but gift cards are welcome.

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