When Helping Hurts: Why You Shouldn’t Donate Physical Goods During A Disaster

As I write this Fort McMurray, Alberta is burning. My twitter and Facebook feeds are full of images of terror and heartbreak, as a wildfire tares through the community and tens of thousands for people (currently estimated at 80,000) are displaced. It breaks my heart and it has me (as with many of you) wondering, how can I help? The reality is that our compassion and zeal to lend a hand can often cause more harm than good. I love how our communities rally and step up to provide in a time of need, please take a moment to consider how you can best direct your efforts.

I have been fortunate to be able to assist on the ground with disaster relief in communities across Alberta including the Slave Lake fire in 2011 and the Calgary floods in 2013, and I’ve learned that cash donations, even small ones, are by far the most effective way to help those recovering from a disaster.

 

The Real Need

Right now the true needs are unknown. We look at the images coming through the media and our minds tell us, these people have lost everything. Unfortunately, we won’t know the true status for a few weeks to come, and the areas of need are often much different then we perceive. Our compassion tells us we need to help these people get back on their feet, replace the things they’ve lost. So we start collecting food, clothing and household items for them. We don’t realize that it could be 2 years before they have a place to put them. We don’t realize that someone will have to sort, warehouse and distribute what we collect. We don’t realize that for heath and safety reasons a lot of what we collect cannot be distributed. Often leading to our own heartbreak when our hard work is turned away. In these first few weeks emergency shelters are equipped to provide the necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. Regardless of whether you are staying in a shelter or not, you can go there to gain access to these basic services.

An example of unforeseen need is that during a wildfire, electricity to the community is lost. This means that even if a home was not affected by the fire, every single fridge and freezer will need to be replaced. We are talking tens of thousands of appliances. This is not something that can be donated, shipped, sorted, and tested. It takes extreme buying power, manufacture negotiations and logistical coordination at a global scale. This is why organizations like the Red Cross in cooperation with government , are powerful tools in times of disaster.

 

Lessons From Our Past

Unfortunately, in recent years Alberta has seen it’s fair share of disasters. In 2011 a wildfire in northern Alberta forced the evacuation of Slave Lake, Alberta and dozens of smaller communities. In true Canadian fashion the support was enormous and donations started pouring in, but what happened next could surprise you.

“They tried to give the excess donations to local charities, but none would take them. They eventually gave them to a local waste collection company to hand out to local groups. But there were so few takers that the company eventually dropped them off at a landfill.”

During the Slave Lake fire response many good willed organizations and trucking companies loaded up truck after truck with donated goods to be delivered to the community, only to find out there is nowhere to take them. If Calgary was overwhelmed with goods 550km away from Slave Lake, you can imagine the impact on the community itself. No one wants to make the decision to throw away a communities good will.

 

Why organizations don’t accept physical goods

This may have you wondering why more organizations don’t accept physical goods. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Warehouseing and sorting donated goods is a logistical nightmare
  • Individuals affected often don’t have anywhere to store donated items
  • The majority of donated items are not fit for redistribution for health and safety concerns
  • Costs for shipping & storing donated items often outweigh the cost of buying new
  • Donations rarely fill the actual need at the moment
  • NGO’s such as the Red Cross have pre-existing agreements in place to fulfill the basic needs of food, shelter & clothing
  • The collective buying power of an NGO can stretch your dollar further

If you are going to donate physical items the best avenue is to donate them where you usually do on an individual basis. These organizations are well networked and will help to fulfill the need where needed, but are often not equipped to receive truckloads at a time.

 

How You Can Help

1. Make a financial donation to an NGO involved in the relief effort

We always have a hard time with when it comes to giving financially to an organization but this is the absolute best thing you can do. The Canadian Red Cross does need assessments on every individual and endeavors to provide for their specific needs. This includes getting them back to work by providing items like work boots and specially items such as prescription eyewear or medical aids. Their support often stretches out for years and when you donate to an financial appeal the money is earmarked for that and only that.

The Canadian Red Cross has setup a financial appeal for the Alberta Fires and you can donate here https://donate.redcross.ca/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1951&ea.campaign.id=50610

The Salvation Army also has an appeal here https://secure.salvationarmy.ca/registrant/donate.aspx?eventid=197650&langpref=en-CA&Referrer=http%3a%2f%2fsalvationarmy.ca%2falbertafires%2f

2. Help others on an individual basis

If you see a direct ask or need from a family or individual and you have the means to provide it, please do so. Just be cautious about spreading the word and collecting more then they need.

 

3. Volunteer

This can be tricky as everyone wants to help but in these times skilled and highly trained individuals are required. Keep an eye our for calls for volunteers from reputable organizations and remember that volunteers will be needed for months to come.

 

4. Thank the Volunteers

I can tell you from personal experience that volunteering during a disaster is extremely taxing. You work long hours, get very little sleep and being there for people effected means you also carry their emotional burden. Volunteers may not always be willing to talk about their experiences but taking the time to thank them for their service can provide much needed energy and prevent burnout. During the Slave Lake fires comedian Tracy Morgan invited volunteers to attend his show free of charge and it gave me the mental break I needed to push through another week.

 

Thank you for your support!

Your compassion and desire to help shows the best of humanity. No matter how you choose to give, you will make a difference in someones life, you will make it better. Thank you for choosing to be amazing.

 


 

Due of the incredible reach of this post (Currently 250,000+ reads) and the volume of replies, I have to close the comment section on this post. I appreciate healthy conversion on this matter but the notifications are overwhelming at this time.

Thank you for reading, caring and sharing. 🙂

 

157 Comments

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this, very realistic, saw the waste first hand while volunteering for the Slave Lake fire 🙁

    1. I understand the situation — however, I have enough “stuff” in my house to supply 3 households but barely enough money to buy the extremely costly food we are forced to buy. So sorry — I used to live in Ft Mac.

      1. I feel you there as I’m currently unemployed myself. There may be a need for thease things, just not right now, and not unsolicited. You’re amazing.

    2. I work for Kidney clothes in calgary, We are collecting clothes and the cloth we receive we turn it into cash and then will donate the proceeds for relief for Fort McMurray

  2. This is great when people can eventually get to a disaster shelter, but what about those people stranded on the highway or somewhere in between? Are the NGO’s there in the midway point to getting out of there?

    1. Thanks for the comment TJ. The Canadian Government and NOG’s are certainly working to reach everyone with the supplies needed, and are well on their way. This is exactly why these organizations exist and some of them operate in this capacity on a global scale. The highways to access the area are currently closed to the general public, and as much as we want to jump into action, we unfortunately end up creating a scenario where our good samaritans also need assistance. I am extremely thankful that we live in a place where others are willing to give of their time, talent, and treasure; just trying to help maximize our efforts.

      1. I think the highways from Fort MacMurray have been cleared now with evacuees getting to Edmonton etc. (I could be wrong tho). Also non-emergency workers (ie regular people) did get to people stranded on the highway to deliver fuel, water, food etc. I believe they may have gotten to Wandering River or Grasslands. But it was on the news that people were delivering fuel, etc to people on the evacuation route.

    2. AS stated “If you see a direct need, and you can provide it, please do so so” They needed gas and people saw and brought it. Water.. food… diapers..

    1. Me too my experience with the Red Cross and financial donations is that most goes to administrative cost. And yes that was from a personal experience in volunteering with them.

      1. I agree with you, administration takes a big bite out of the donated funds.

  3. Slave Lake never saw 1 cent from the Red Cross. I’d rather give to local organizations.

  4. I should also say that I agree with much of the article. What is needed now and what will be needed in a week..a month…a year..will be very different. Right now…unskilled good Samaritans are inviting strangers into their homes..setup on good hiway that isn’t closed..giving snacks ..water…diapers..gas..etc. thelp people (many stranded) make it to their next place.
    Never lose local perspective or local support.
    You will hear the stories later about the shirt…the bottled water…the pet food…the hug…the gas cans..sandwiches..

  5. This was a perfectly written article! You managed to make your point, give all the information needed and thank everybody in perfect balance. That is hard to do these days, and I would venture to say 95% of people who would have written this article would have come across as ungrateful assholes, so kudos to you 🙂

    1. Thank you Amanda, I really worked to be informative and I’m glad it came through 🙂

  6. I partially agree with what you wrote, except for fridges and freezer not being usable after power loss? How do you figure that????? The food may go bad but the appliance itself should not be in any way damaged by the loss of power.
    As to financial donations. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is collecting money to send to Fort Mac. How much of it will actually get to were is needed??? How many opportunists will pocket the cash? Even Red cross skims off the top.

      1. I agree! These people are doing a great service which happens to be their job/career. They deserve to be compensated

      2. It would most likely be due to mold and bacteria growing uncontrollably while power is out. When a fridge is left off for a day or two, it might not be a big deal. When it’s been a week, 2 weeks or more, mold and bacteria can grow rapidly and get into places that aren’t easily cleaned like the motor, fan, etc. this makes for an unsafe appliance.

        While some might be salvageable, it is probably more time and cost effective to just replace them, rather than have each unit inspected, cleaned and possibly thrown out anyway.

        I do agree with some of your points, especially for those of us who live further away and feel helpless to *do* anything. I do feel donating cash is probably the best way for me to help, but like others, I am somewhat skeptical of donating money to larger organizations, though I may consider it as its better than doing nothing…

        I would suggest to those who would prefer not to donate to Red Cross, for whatever reason, to try contacting churches, shelters and other groups who are providing hands-on, immediate assistance and donating money directly to those organizations.

        Also, if you still feel compelled to donate “things,” try focusing on one area of need. Think about situations that might need some extra help
        or might be overlooked, like those with pets, pregnant women or new infants, children and elderly with special health and dietary needs, people with other health conditions, etc. That way you can ask specific questions about what people actually need right now.

        Blessings to everyone. This is certainly not an easy thing to deal with and emotions are running high. Let’s try to keep our heads on as we each try to find a way to help that is both effective and meaningful.

    1. After the High River flooding and closure of the town for weeks, the fridges and freezers full of rotting food were considered toxic. We were advised to not even open them as the gases and mood spores would be dangerous to breathe.

    2. Just my two cents but if you’ve ever had a fridge or freezer loose power and had rotting meat and food in them this suggestion is spot on. Even if you do manage to get it adequately disinfected you will NEVER get the smell out.

      Fantastic article providing valuable information causing me to not even notice and grammar issues and I write documentation for a living. ;). Thanks for donating your time to share this.

    3. You will never get rid of the horrible smell. Rotten liquid gets down inside and permeates the whole fridge or freezer.

    4. My brother was evacuated from a forest fire in BC several years ago. He was out of his house for about three weeks and the power was off. On return, everyone was told to duct tape up their fridges and freezers and not even open them, just put them out for collection. He thought like you, “How bad could it be?” and tried to clean out his fridge. He opened it up and lasted only a few minutes and gave up. The stench, the rot, it is so bad, it’s impossible to get out — seeps right in to the appliance.

    5. I’m in Calgary, during the flood my place work was closed due to no power. The smell of the wasted food, frozen meat that thawed…. That’s why fridges go to the dump after. That smell does NOT go away. Wouldn’t of believed it until I witnessed it.

    6. Fridges that are left with food rotting in them for a longer period will become so permeated with the odor they can’t be cleaned. I would imagine this could happen here since no one is there to clean them out . I agree that is a future need. having been in a fire evacuation (hub oil) I know what the most immediate need is and no the Reed Cross was not there on time for it. the local co-op gave me shoes and helped me contact family and friends we could stay with. The Red Cross did set up shelters where people could stay and set up a place where people could report and be reunited with loved ones BUT that took a few hours to set up. People were left stranded in the area (the buses quit running)and had to walk out to safety. I got out due to the kindness of the driver of the last bus allowed in giving me a ride without a ticket and his suggestion I find shelter in the co-op. The Red Cross is great but they take too long to mobilize to be of much help as first responders. Their registration office did help me to let my husband who was at work know where I had gone Kudos too all the good Samaritans that are helping on site with gas, sandwiches and whatever the immediate needs are. they are the ones who will be remembered.

      1. Agree…..my first call was to the RED CROSS,…held for over 2 hrs to speak to a lady with a foreign accent…who did not understand what I was asking her. I wanted to know had any drop off locations for essentials been set up???? I had donations that I wanted to drop off (NOW not next week) for those displaced and stranded. She had no clue what I was asking about but as soon as I said donation she wanted money. I explained that I wanted to know where if any drop off points had been set up….then I hear her say “did she hang up, hello, hello, and after over 2 hrs of waiting I was cut off. Our local news has shown our good people with food, water, fuel on the highways etc. etc…but at no point have I seen anyone from the Red Cross….what are they waiting for??????

        1. Sorry to hear about your experience. Because of the points outlined in my post (and many others) the Red Cross does not accepts physical donations. The Canadian Red Cross is actively involved in the reception centers that are open.

    7. Obviously you have never had a freezer full of food that went bad due to a power outage. The stench is unbearable and impossible to remove from the appliance. I have had this happen twice in my lifetime and both times the appliance had to be replaced.

  7. Why would they need to buy new appliances if only their electricity was affected? Surely the appliances wold be intact and still operational when electricity is returned? I don’t understand.

    Just a nag, there were so many grammatical errors in this piece that it’s hard to take it seriously.

    I agree, it’s good to donate financially, so that we don’t end up with the same landfill situation as in Slave Lake. But I still think it’s a good idea to donate locally, things like fuel, diapers, sanitary products, underwear, and other essentials. I’m all for donating such items to the people, for instance, who are offering to drive up there and deliver the items to people stuck on the highway, etc. And I don’t think you have to be a skilled person in order to volunteer; surely there are countless opportunities for simply good-hearted people to become involved and lend a helping hand?

    Just my thoughts.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Jamie. I apologize for the grammatical errors, I’m dyslexic and not a professional writer, simply sharing my experiences from the field.

      Your correct that appliances would be functional but the level of contamination is high. That example is directly from the Alberta Health requirements for re-entry to Slave Lake in 2011. http://globalnews.ca/news/121989/slave-lake-residents-need-new-fridges-freezers/

      As far as skilled volunteers go, there definalty volunteer opertunities surrounding the even,t but there are very strict requirements surrounding shelters and disaster areas.

      1. I used to judge people for poor grammar until my daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia. Dyslexia is not laziness, sloppiness, or lack of intelligence. If anything, she has to work 5x harder to achieve the same results. So I no longer judge people for poor grammar.

        Thanks for the article. I’ve already seen people in Ontario commenting about donating goods. No! You’re money will go a lot further and won’t have to take a truck to get there.

      2. Aaaaaand, I managed to make a you’re / your typo myself. I may not judge other people’s poor grammar, but I will judge my own poor grammar. *sigh*

    2. Grammatical errors really? Surely the kindness and compassion and awareness that Mr. McIntyre has provided is more important than the grammar. Can’t take it seriously? looks to me that it is pretty well researched with links to credible sources and first hand experience. Kudos to you Mr McIntyre, sorry I don’t have grammar check so hope this is ok (or is that okay)

    3. Jamie Pilgrim your the one who is hard to take! Seriously? what a rude comment to make to this man who is just trying to help others by offering his experience and knowledge. If you wish to critique other peoples grammar why don’t you get a job as a spelling teacher where your critiquing might be appreciated. If you read your own comment you have a typo yourself. (Surely the appliances (wold) be intact.) Your rude comment speaks volume about your own character. I too have a learning disability and it never fails that some ignorant individual will point out others short comings. His response to you was very polite and kind and speaks volumes about his character. He might not have perfect grammar but he is a gentleman and a knowledgeable one at that.

      1. I agree , and the information provided out weighs any errors
        Links that were provided are informative , pettiness in people’s time of need is uncalled for.

  8. Thank you for bringing this to our/my attention. We are all just so
    Intent on helping we don’t always think of these points!!

    1. Absolutely nothing. I have seen the work first hand and it was simply drawing examples. Theirs a reason I chose to link to multiple donation sources.

    2. Judgemental much? Instead of trying to tear someone down, don’t you think this is the time to be building everyone back up? While you may not agree with the tone or content of the article does that necessitate questioning his integrity?

  9. Have you ever used a fridge that food been rotting in after a few days etc come on people that article was well written. Money is still the best to give. Even gift cards have their downfall because you are telling this is what you have to use and they are not to choose for them self

  10. Thanks for this information Edward. A lot of it is very helpful and things we would never think of on our own.

  11. I am a senior citizen in a wheelchair and I live in a small village in the West Kootenays of British Columbia. I look out my window and my view is I am completely surrounded by mountains. I am watching this terrifying event in Fort McMurray unfold through media sources. I am thinking there but for the Grace of God go I. Kudos to all the good people out there who are genuinely helping, I am making an attempt to do what I am able from where I am. God Bless you all and although it may not seem like much at the moment I am sending my very best wishes and a prayer.

  12. Very much disagree with this comment. I personally received monetary relief from the red cross which I greatly needed and am forever grateful for.

  13. Well said, Edward, thanks for your insightful and accurate info that is of great help to all of us, especially coming from your experience. Just so the uninformed know, Red Cross only uses 5% for admin costs, one of the lowest and most reasonable of all charities.

    1. I just check the Red Cross admin cost and it is 17.5 % not one of the lowest. The Canadian Food Grainsbank is the lowest

    2. From experience with fire in southern Alberta, the Mennonite Disaster Services volunteers were a wonderful group that did SO MUCH for the area, with no expectation of remuneration, acknowledgement or praise. I am certain they will be there to help Fort Mac when rebuilding can be done.

  14. Having worked in a community before, during and after being severely flood impacted, I fully support most of what you said. Unsolicited donated goods create an additional crisis for the community. The sentiment is appreciated but the sheer volume is unmanageable and often unecessary. Volunteer hours are wasted sorting, storing and eventually disposing.

    What I don’t agree with is donating all money to Red Cross and similar NGOs. While they are all great organizations and very helpful during the response phase, they are less skilled at the recovery phase, which is the point where financial assistance is truly needed. Local organizations are best positioned to determine the greatest areas of need for their community and should be at the forefront of planning for long term recovery. Outside organizations frequently come in and “do to” the community instead of “doing with” the community. As their fundraising arms are much longer than the local organizations so they get the majority of the donated dollars. This creates duplication and gaps in service, and causes unecessary grief, frustration and work at a time when organizations are suffering. Don’t parachute in various types of aide workers who don’t know the community, give the money to the local organizations so they can hire the people the need to get the money to the places that it will benefit the most people!

  15. Great, well-cited article, presenting (humbly) an important perspective. Sorry for the flack you’re getting in the comments section.

  16. I get your point……but the need I would like to fill is immediate. As in ‘I just packed up my kids, drove through an inferno, ran out of gas, kids got dehydrated, and, finally, arrived at a shelter and THERE WERE DIAPERS!’

    I volunteer at a food bank. Food banks take much more than food….in fact, I often donate toiletries, baby formula and diapers. I rarely donate food. Today I spent 95,000 Shopper’s points (equal to $170) to buy diapers, baby wipes and toiletries. Because that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what I could do TODAY! Tomorrow I will donate money to the Red Cross……but TODAY I did something immediate.

    Not everyone can or wants to donate cash. Don’t turn those people away and don’t discourage those who want to donate hard goods. It may be that, with the state of the economy in Alberta at the moment, there is lots of need for diapers, baby wipes and toiletries…..

    1. Cara, I don’t think that is what the author is saying. Those items you mentioned have been specifically requested by the Red Cross and Edmonton Emergency Relief Centre. People will however, end up trying to donate furniture, random things from their homes that may or may not actually work, half used jars of foods, etc. You get the picture. The Relief Centre doesn’t have anywhere to put them and that is not what they have requested.
      As mentioned, it would be better for people to donate those types of items to local agencies so that they can be distributed to those in need at a later date if those in need state that they need these items.

      That’s great that you used your points to get baby items to donate. I think I’ll do the same tomorrow, I hadn’t thought of that, luckily I have a ton of points saved.

  17. I agree that cash donations are best but they do need immediate supplies of, and are asking for, toiletries, diapers, formula, blankets and non perishable food. Given AB economic times, it may be easier for some families to donate such goods who currently don’t have much cash. There are transportation companies delivering these items to sheltors, etc. and so for those who have lost a job or currently have no cash but wish to help in some way,this is still a viable alternative. I am collecting such items as I did during Calgary’s 2013 flood (and all of which were very gratefully appreciated). Again, if you have cash, that is probably best. stay safe everyone and try and be positive in our worst times.

    1. I think the author is mostly referring to used items like clothes and furniture. Food, toiletries and baby supplies are items that can only be used if new which is essentially the same as donating cash. You have to purchase them to donate them. I see many people in times like these go through their houses and collect all the stuff that they don’t use, things that you would clear out during spring cleaning etc. It may be still be useful stuff but it may not really be what’s practical for all the reasons stated in the article.

    2. At a time of real crisis cash can be useless. I had cash but could not access it because my wallet had stayed at home as I fled the area. I am sure the folks stranded along the way because they ran out of gas etc.would be able to buy some under normal circumstances. My husband also had cash once we found each other but at the moment of crisis I was barefoot and penniless fleeing from the fire at hub oil just across the tracks and the highway from me. I needed someone to care enough to give me a pair of shoes and a ride out of there which were delivered to me not by the red cross but by our local co-op and our transit driver. When you are stranded in the middle of no where and out of things you can have a wallet full of cash but you can’t eat it. or put it into your gas tank, or use it for a diaper. I want to repeat how important someone delivering things that are needed is. I still tear up when I think of the people at the co-op. I am sure the shoes they gave me were surplus but who cares they covered my feet. and they also got me a lunch while I waited to find a place to stay. That was a very small disaster compared to this. I can’t imagine how many times more this is needed here. From experience these people need the personal touch as much as they need things.NO I am not suggesting we send them all our garage sale items. we tend to w3ant to help with things we don’t want anyway and that is not helpful but just a small gift like a cup of coffee or a diaper are so important in a time like this.

      1. Hello Betty, thank you for sharing your story. I absolutely believe I helping your neighbours and fully believe in one on one assistance. The primary issue here is the sheer volume of goods collected in a response of this level. Thank you for your compassion and willingness to be there. 🙂

  18. I get what this article is saying and it has a lot of great perspective! Instead of attacking this man for making an effort to bring forth some very valid points let’s elaborate on what could be done right now and what some options are.
    I think the most important thing to remember in donating items for immediate relief is to inquire about what is actually needed. They are asking for toiletries and basic items such as diapers, wipes, new socks and new underwear, soap etc. Sometimes people want to help and get a very specific idea of what they WANT to give- at that time it is important to step back and look in to what is truly needed at the time. It’s pretty fortunate that we have this lane of communication with the internet and are able to get updates on what is actually needed and where.
    I’ve also been thinking about the next few weeks, months, years etc and I hope that the passion people feel right now will continue. It is absolutely moving to see the response and I hope people are willing to get their hands dirty when it’s time for the next step.

  19. We, the quilters of this country, are making quilts for the victims of this disaster. Truly, you mean they are not wanted? I lot of time and effort go into this. Please see our Facebook page: “Quilts for Fort McMurray”

    1. Thank your for your efforts, and I do not mean to devalue your efforts. As long as you have pre arranged a willing donor please continue. The issue is the volume of unsolicited goods arriving from across the country.

    2. I was part of the Quilts for High River & Quilts for Calgary during the floods 3 years ago. When we went house to house to distribute them in flooded areas of Calgary, two months after the flood, the damage was still evident in many places & people were immensely grateful for the quilts. Perhaps they didn’t NEED a quilt, but the sentiment that some one was thinking of them during their loss made many of them cry. I’ll be donating quilts, but it will be a long time before many recipients have a home so I’m not sure how we’ll distribute them to the residents of Fort McMurray.

      1. We are also working on quilts here in B.C. for the folks in Fort McMurray we sending them to 2 places and they will distributed from there as needed

    3. I am sure those will be wanted although you may have to hang onto them until the people have a bed to put them on. I think the things that are not wanted would be using this situation like a giant garage sale to bring all out unwanted items out of the basement to. Those belong in a garage sale not taking up valuable space on a transport truck that costs shipping. Sell those things at a garage sale and donate the money. It will not cause a lot of overhead to get it there.

  20. Appliances which have help rotting food with no power can be cleaned using a product called R2-L.
    However, in this case, many of the appliances cannot be used as they are fire damaged.

  21. As a fire victim in 2011, I would never donate to Red Cross. They are very wasteful of money. In the first 2 weeks, they were supportive. But after they had so many hoops for victims to jump through, they were only a frustration. Many people who sot their help were turned away. They had an office in our town for 2 years and most people around here were stumped as to why because we never heard of anyone they helped. Please research who you are donating to and the amount of administration costs.

  22. Hi, so this is probably a long shot, but if volunteers are needed to help clean up the town when the flames are out, would you be one to know?

    1. Hey Kat, I will certainly try to keep on top of things when bodies are needed. At the moment we are weeks away from bodies on the ground in the directly effected communities for assistance. I was in the mix when the city of Calgary and town of high river organized this for the floods. Fire is a different beast, but their will definitely be opertunities 🙂

    2. Samaritans Purse is another great NGO that will provide boots on the ground support for cleaning up after the all clear is given. They have fully stocked response units in Calgary that they deploy and will be a point of contact for volunteers.

  23. I think a fridge without electricity, sitting for god knows how long in the heat currently up there would be absolutely rank and only fit to be tossed. An unplugged fridge should be left ajar or mould will develop. Even an empty clean fridge. Used obviously , not new. I think anyway. I thought the article and the replies by the author to comments made were of a very informative balanced and respectful nature and made me think. I suppose balance is the key for the immediate needs for donations of all kinds. Long term though it makes sense to have money to continue funding for years to come. I totally agree on the logistical storage and waste problems that arise.. Nightmare !

  24. I understand that allot of things are unnecessary for donations at this time but …I don’t agree with everything being said I spent the last two days washing and sorting clothes and blankets. Keeping my eyes glued on fb group for fort M and most people I have seen say they just grabbed family and ran do people not need blankets shoes jackets clothing … I have donations coming in for these things and have people planing to bring them to these people in need . To turn that away I feel is wrong. I am bagging things in sizes and genders. I have little money at the moment so I cant donate money but I am donating my time water bill and energy to make sure people have some clothing and blankets.

    1. Hi Sue, your efforts are appreciated and it’s amazing that your working to help people. The problem comes when the entire nation is doing the same. If your supporting individuals directly, this is certainly a valid way to help out. 🙂

  25. The Salvation Army does a lot of good work with very low administration costs. If you have problems donating to the Red Cross, as many do because of their high admin costs, the Salvation Army is a great alternative.

    1. Thanks Linda, I totally agree! That’s why I linked to both. 🙂

    2. The people working at Red Cross as management, administration staff, crisis contacts etc. etc. ALL deserve to be paid. Just like the rest of society they have homes to pay for and mouths to feed. Great work Red Cross! You are all very much appreciated 🙂

  26. Im sorry, but as some here, I also have lots of stuff people can use in needs of emergency and have my own financial hardships to deal with. As for the red cross, salvation army and other major organizations, it has been said by many that only a portion of the financial donations actually go to the needy where in my opinion….in times like this 100% should be used for the emergencies…..so with that said, anyone that loses everything would be very grateful to receive any kind of help from anyone that is helping. And if it is too hard of a task for NGO’s to sort out everything that is donated and distribute to those in need? I say too bad…..tha’ts what they are there for and they can deal with it……All in all…..ALL HELP IS BETTER THAN NO HELP…….SO PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO DISCOURAGE PEOPLE FROM DOING THE RIGHT THING BECAUSE THE NGO’S WANT MONEY.

    Dan
    Calgary

    1. Hey Dan, I appreciate your opinion and identify with the financial hardships as I’m currently unemployed myself. I can’t speak for the Salvation Army but the Red Cross clearly indicates the cost of administration on their website.

      Regardless of your position on financial donations to NGO’s, this particular situation is not the role of the NGO’s sort out and the bottom line is most NGO’s do not, and have never accepted physical donations, leading to thease community collection groups landfilling the items.

      It’s easy to see this a being ungrateful at a personal level but when unsolicited goods are sent form across the country to communities that are not ready to receive it, it creates real problems.

      I realize this is the unpopular opinion, and that it’s not for everyone, but it’s not the time for this kind of support. The reason I choose to share was I have seen the waste first hand. Well meaning donations that cause great expances, people’s time and passion, just to see hearts broken.

      Your willingness to lend an hand is commendable, but is better stuff for people that have nowhere to put it is not the ancwer.

      1. May I suggest as I already did indirectly that if people have used items to donate they have a garage sale and donate the money instead. Money is so much less expensive to move than a truckload of household items or even cloths.

  27. Thank you so much for your post as I was wondering how I could help from here on Vancouver island and you made my decision to support through Red Cross Or Salvation Army a no brainer. I hadn’t thought about the needs of people in the future and replacing appliances will certainly be a real need . I’m sure my money will go much further when pooled with others and used to purchase in bulk. I hadn’t even thought of the needs of those who may not have lost their homes to fire and the expenses they will face when they get home. Again thanks for helping me with my decision

  28. Ed, I truly appreciate and understand your position. Please read my previous post. That said, why don’t we, you and I, and other similar minded people who want to do good and collect those “unused” donations after a disater and use your passion and mine, and others, and collect them and find a solution to send them where they are needed? I am willing… and in Calgary.

    1. Hey Shan, you make me smile 🙂 You’re the kind of person that energize me. I hate to be a downer but if you look at the Slave article I referenced that’s exactly what the organization tried to do, then a corporation tried and eventually gave up. The cost of storage, sorting, and eventually nation redistribution is astronomical. The best thing we can do is fulfill direct needs, when requested through official channels.

  29. Thank you but I still feel clothing is not something people will turn down and if they have nothing they will be grateful for it. Saying they have no place to put it is ignorant. If they don’t do they not still deserve a clean bag of clothes and umm last I checked strangers are opening homes. hotels and lands to accommodate people and help. So if true I am sure they will have a place for a few shirts and pants … I am not donating teddys and couches but good conditioned clothing. The reality is people lost EVERYTHING. see how long you go with whats on your back.

    1. Hi Sue! The point the author is attempting to make is not that ALL physical donations are a bad idea but that these types of donations need to be made purposefully. Perhaps you live in a community where people displaced by the fires have come for shelter and support! If so a local community group could very well distribute clothing etc as they know specific needs. What Edward is speaking of is the idea that we all want to help – all of us – and if thousands of us, more probable that hundreds of thousands of Canadians want to help and if we all send things at this time there will be a gross over abundance of goods.

      He is not discouraging purposeful partnerships at all!! He gave great tips on how to know if your efforts are misplaced!! I think it would be beautiful if we could “adopt” families and correspond with them about on going needs and respond when the right time comes!

      All in all we are talking about it because we care – that’s what’s important!!

      1. Well said!! I agree that he is not saying all physical donations are terrible, but an over abundance of used clothing that ends up in a landfill is a waste! If your community is housing evacuees and the need is there then go ahead. Alternatively you can donate cash. In a crisis everyone wants to help and that is wonderful! He is only sharing what he saw first hand and giving some valuable advise for those wanting to make the most of what they can give.

  30. I too was involved with slave lake and seen the amount waste involved it made me sick to see donated items such as furniture, baby strollers, play pens, swing sets, dining tables, chairs, televisions, small appliances, etc all being hauled to the landfill. The author speaks from experience and is reminding people of what truly works.

  31. red cross has been caught time and time again taking to much money. ceo makes 700k a year. makes sense lol. don’t donate to red cross. salvation army is also on the list choose that instead.

  32. One of the problems is quality of goods donated. Things with holes stains and badly worn .I have a lot of admiration for the lady accepting sorting and sizing clothing etc… hats off to you
    The amount of things people donate that is crap is unbelievable I like the idea of a direct donation. Think about this.
    There are over 30 million people in Canada. if each one of us donated a dollar there would be 30 million dollars. .Dont underestimate the power of a small donation thanks Edward

  33. A large part of why people would rather help with donations is because of the outrageous percentage of money that the Red Cross keeps for themselves, and the almost half a million salary the CEO takes home yearly. People don’t want to donate and contribute to such a salary for one person… and they know that if they donate items like diapers, formula, bottles, wipes, feminine products, etc, that are immediately needed, they will be used by those directly in need and not by those unethically making a fortune on other people’s misfortunes.

  34. Thank you for taking the time in writing this. I have not experienced this kind of thing but my heart hurts when I see what’s happening. When faced with situations such as this materials are not always helpful, money is best. Money will help those affected “get by” until things begin to settle down. Most I’m sure are traveling light so they don’t need more stuff. Thank you for clearing up on how people can help. Best read on social media in a very long time.

  35. With the help of social media and the creation of Facebook groups created specifically aimed to connect evacuees with donations, I can attest that donating clothes, personal hygiene items, etc is in fact reaching those in need without. They are in dire Ned of immediate assistance. NGOs are a great resource too. But in this particular situation, there are evacuees stranded in small communities without many supplies or any at all. The help they are receiving within hours of making a plea is directly from the public. NGOs will be there for them to continue with long-term aid, such as rebuilding the community and providing social programs. From personal testimonies, the evacuees are not getting all of their essential and basic needs met in the immediate hours following their flee. With teir plea made public through social media, individuals had trucks organized with supplies within hours. In this situation, the need for help is overwhelming. Donating to NGOs is one way to help, but you only have to look at the posts of this Facebook page: Fort Mac Fire Donations to quickly realize you can make an immediate difference for those who need help in this very hour.

  36. This article is so accurate. We face the same issues in International Humanitarian Assistance. I am currently working on the Syria crisis and continually needing to explain that used clothing, toys, etc. Just isn’t what’s needed. The transport, customs clearance, cleaning costs and sorting along costs more than the value of the goods. I know people want to help, however its critical to understand the needs before making any assumptions.

  37. Very good article and enlightening. Personally I prefer to donate to the Salvation Army. Kudos to all the good people out there doing whatever they can. Moral support would mean a lot at a time like this. Private enterprise helped before the Government; West-Jet, Shell Oil, Telus, just to name a few. This is something that will NOT go away next week. A lot of people are stepping up to the plate right now, but these people will need help for a long time. There are MANY small groups out there collecting AND distributing goods, so the Social Media is a good place to look for that but it does take large organizations like the Red Cross to get the big job done. Alberta Strong is what we are.

  38. Right now 80,000 don’t have so much as a clean pair of socks and underwear to put on today. Channelling funds for recovery phase is important but there are some “right now” tangibles that NGO’s just aren’t going to be able to respond to. NGO red tape an cause delays. I was living in the US on 9-11 and the American Red Cross sat in a BILLION DOLLARS in donations for over a month without writing a check. They may have had their reasons, valid or not. My brother coordinated efforts to get donated tangibles to separated and stranded people in Canmore after the flood because there was a “right now” need for it. I think we need to differentiate between responding to “right now” giving and long term help. There is a difference.

  39. This article totally makes sense & will have me thinking twice about how I approach disaster relief in the future. However, I’ve also seen small relief efforts asking for non perishable food items, etc. Now, I understand many victims may not have homes or appliances to cook, but it’s likely many left with their camping stuff or have been/ will be put up in hotel rooms. Maybe some have access to a hotel for a week & then what will they do? Until damages are assessed, & insurance companies become involved in repair – it’s likely campers will utilize their trailers/ RV’s, hotel appliances & local housing resources etc. If they find a hotel in support of further disaster relief/ their insurance company , it’s very possible they may have a suite with a small kitchen in it. They may have the necessities of life right now, but how about in a month or two? An allowance per day is OK but eating out at the same places for over a year while things are being rebuilt might lose it’s excitement & they may just want a simple family meal for breakfast/ lunch or dinner every so often. Or how about those living with relatives who are helping out as much as they can but can’t afford to feed their guests? Wouldn’t it be nice to at least be supplied non-perishable food items that can be utilized in meals or having a can of soup for lunch without maybe feeling guilty for eating their food? I don’t know. I get both sides, I think it really depends on the size & focus of the relief effort & how things are being distributed.

    1. Thanks CB, absolutely. The issues is when you add up the small efforts on a national scale it creates incredible problems. Sending unsolicited goods is not good for as you mentioned, people are displaced and not in their communities. This is why donating thouse items to your local food bank is always best.

  40. Here’s what you overlooked:

    1. Shelters, even temporary ones still operate on donations, including but not limited to cash. Clothing distributed at shelters is not new and comes from donations. Donating clothing, toiletries and even small toys allows these shelters to redirect cash funds elsewhere, with a better impact.

    2. Cash donations to legitimate organizations is not 100% put towards those in need. Approximately 60% of what is collected is used to assist those in need and in some cases, some organizations put only 35% of donated cash to those in need.

    3. As with any disaster, there will be those who take advantage of the situations, collecting monetary donations “in the name of” whatever disaster happens. That means money is not directed to those in need, but in the pockets of those seeking to take advantage of a dire situation.

    4. There’s nothing wrong with donating physical goods so long as people are aware of what specific physical goods are being requested by volunteers and agencies supporting those out of place. By encouraging “cash only” donations, you’re actually providing less to support these individuals. The lack of an organization’s DR plan is not an issue of those wishing to donate, but those who are operating it.

    1. Donation of Gift Cards, lets say Walmart, would mean that the FULL donation of the Gift Card would
      be used by the people that need it for Diapers/ baby food/ tooth paste etc etc and no % would be taken off.

  41. Thankyou for enlightening me on this issue. Unfortunately I am not in a position to make a cash donation at this particular time but I will make a donation of saleable items to the Salvation Army store and therefore I would hope that a portion of the sales from my donated goods will eventually help those in need.

  42. During the flood in Manitoba I volunteered at a Red Cross Center. I was saddened to see people in real need being given a bag with a toothbrush etc but what they really needed was much more. Is it true that money donated to the Red Cross during a disaster is actually saved for the next disaster and so on?
    My Dad always said that during the war the Salvation Army were the best at meeting the needs of the soldiers. I always donate to them for that reason. Thank you for your article. Certainly making people think.

    1. Hey Leanne, on the Red Cross side – all funds donated to a Red Cross appeal are earmarked for that appeal. The current Alberta appeal is more broad as we have 3 geographically distinct evacuations in Alberta at the moment and Fort McMurray is just one of them.

      In the example of Slave Lake the Red Cross had an abundance of funding and the money cannot be reallocated. So they offered a granting program to other community organizations doing great work.

      Ultimately, how I support how people choose to donate 🙂

  43. I just came across the Edmonton Food Bank’s website. They are helping Evacuees and are accepting donations, food and money directed to the evacuees on their website. https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/edmontons-food-bank/
    My reasons for including this charitable group is because they are local, and they seem to be filling a need with this situation. People can take or leave this.
    This article has given me an aha moment in regards to donations of household goods. I realize the timeline needs of Ft Mac residents will change but currently they need basics. Thank you for that.

    Take care

    1. Thanks Nadine! Donations to your local organizations such as the food bank are always a good thing. The primary issue is sending physical donations to the communities.

  44. I understand the frustration people feel when they hear about their donations paying for overhead or administration. It is so much easier to connect with diapers or a hot meal being handed out to someone in immediate need. But disaster relief on a large scale involves large numbers of people to be recruited, trained and supported; large amounts of money to be received, disbursed, and accounted for; and many thousands of things to be acquired, transported, stored, and distributed. And you have to be able to ramp up that response in days or even hours across the entire country. When you donate to a large organization like the Canadian Red Cross or Salvation Army, part of your donation supports the ability to do exactly that, for this disaster and others like it.

    Would you say that a volunteer who works in the background, doing financial auditing, onboarding volunteers, supporting IT or answering phones and sorting mail isn’t making a real difference to the people in need? If their contributions matter, then so does every dollar that supports their work.

    I’m part of the “overhead” of a large nonprofit, and I’m not ashamed of it. And I think the team of volunteers I work with is fantastic. Some of them never see the people that their work enables us to help, and they do it anyway, because they believe in the mission and they understand the value of their contribution. I do my best to support them and to “keep the lights on” for everyone, paid or volunteer, so they can do the work they are here to do.

    Thank you as a citizen to everyone with a big heart that is helping, whether with money, stuff or time. And especial thank you to those being thoughtful about how they can make the most positive impact.

    SW

  45. Reblogged this on equipoise life and commented:
    This is a very interesting read and comes direct from the front line. I felt it was worth sharing as we all want to help. This guy speaks from his heart about what really helps.
    Bernie

  46. Thank you for this excellent and well balanced article. Some c Mm enters seem to have a problem giving financial donations to Red Cross or others that have administration needs. I’d respectfully suggest giving money to a church or faith denomination. For example your local Catholic or Alliance church will be able to pass your money directly to a needy family in a Catholic or Alliance church in Ft. Mac.

  47. I’ve seen this posted a few times now, and while I think there are good points made, I disagree with the strong language of the title. I helped out at the Edmonton Emergency Response Services this morning, sorting boxes of donations of new toiletries, diapers, underwear, socks, clothes and shoes. There were dozens and dozens of people helping out – and all were kept busy with the generosity of those who donated.

    Then, the EPS asked us to move down to the southside warehouse to help sort there because they were preparing to welcome the evacuees in, so that they could get the supplies they need. These donations are valuable, and needed, and being used TODAY. Maybe used stuff is not helpful at this time, but these new things ARE: people have now been out of their homes for several days, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few treasured items. I bet they’d appreciate a stick of deodorant, or a free box of diapers.

    In the end, perhaps it’s best to say: educate yourself on how best to help, and then help how you can – with your time, money or sorting skills – and trust that your efforts are contributing to the good of our world, one way or another.

  48. Reblogged this on Plan B Mentality and commented:
    I was working on my own write up for Fort Mac and in doing research found this… truly great writing from a man who seems to care as much as me… so I went and figured out how to reblog his post instead of writing mine for now… Please Read This!!!

  49. VERY WELL WRITTEN.. PIPER.

    Money is the best donation a person can make.

    So, If you have surplus things around your house, hold a garage sale..
    And then, donate the proceeds from the garage sale to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and/or to other reputable charity groups..

    Another example, I help out with church store of donated goods..

    These stores are full of items people donated,but many of these items are difficult to sell and some even have to be taken to landfill sites for disposal.

    THANKS PIPER ..
    LOVE .. GRANDPA ..JOE

    1. The highest income in Canada is found in the Alberta oilsands in the census agglomeration known as Wood Buffalo, which takes in the city of Fort McMurray and surrounding communities, where median family income is $186,782.Sep 11, 2013

      1. Jp that was also 3 years ago! This is now & things have changed but to do a little more pointing out. At that time the average single family house was $750,000 plus dollars, while a single bedroom apartment was $1650 per month. As well food, clothing, transportation and other goods were all more expensive than other places in Alberta let alone in Canada.
        If your upset that they still made possibly more money than you, they were always looking for workers, you just needed to be willing to leave your family for weeks at a time, work long days & be willing to get your hands a little dirty.

      2. And there are 100,000 people laid off in the oil industry In Alberta right now. They have mortgage payments, vehicle payments regardless. So what’s your point, we shouldn’t help?

      3. THEIR. HOUSES, Clothes, vehicles, appliances, ETC….BURNED……DOWN to the GROUND, they have NO FOOD, SHELTER, LOST PETS and are pretty much suffering from TRAUMATIC SHOCK, you are selfish rude people.

      4. So? Does that mean that you propose a check of their annual T4’s before offering help? And how do you decide at what annual salary someone will get help and someone won’t? This isn’t a case of replacing someone’s boat…it si replacing basic needs, like shelter, clothing, and food. For gawd’s sake.. when someone has lost everything, they need all the help and support they can get. Sounds like you are a little jealous of other people;s success.

  50. Just wondering … Why do the fridges and freezers need to be replaced ? Is it Because old food is left n them without power ? Are they damaged so they can’t be cleaned and used ?

    1. Not everyone has the stomach to deal with the stench of rotten food and the plastic in the fridge and freezers retain that odour for months. Unless you are prepared to put a bottle of vanilla in a dish or a fresh pound of coffee on a tray and close the doors for a couple weeks and be without appliances for a couple more weeks, buy new. Take a photo and call your insurance company.

      1. There’s room for a little charity, michele. Obviously, the question is about appliances that weren’t burned, but simply lost power – as Dawn has more kindly explained.

    2. Yes this is the likely reason. If the weather is warm and there is no power to keep the fridge and freezers cold then food will spoil and mould will grow.

    3. They have burned in the fires in the case of flood water damage etc. as well as no hydro the smell remains in the fridges and bacteria can’t be removed .

    4. They would be considered a biowaste. When food rots inside a refrigerator it produces mold and toxins. Not something that can be cleaned.

    5. Most like they are damaged beyond repair, and yes, the food would be spoiled in just a couple of days!

  51. Why in God’s name would you be telling people to only donate money when requests for items, such as fuel, water, personal hyg. items have been requested? When people have gotten off the planes in Edmonton strollers and car seats have been waiting for them to take as they need them for their children and these have been donated. I also know for a fact that during the Slave Lake fire the Red Cross keeps a large percentage of money donated as it is a Government Organization. Something like 60 cents on the dollar. Of course you don’t mention this when asking people to only donate money. Not to mention what it does for a persons emotional well being to see, to be able to see immediately things needed that have been donated and knowing that people care. That people have driven up with fuel to help families who have been stranded on the highway with no fuel left, no food, water. Very, Very poor comments to be making in this instance.

    1. Hey Shelly, I appreciate your reply but it seems that you didn’t read the whole article. As for your Red Cross comments, the Red Cross is an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) and a register charity in Canada. The Canadian Red Cross’s average cost of administration over the pas 5 years is 16.5% and this years trend is 13% meaning 87 cents every dollar supports programs and people in need. This is 100% transparent and clearly marked on the donation page http://www.redcross.ca/donate#selected-appeal-a0650cb6-ce29-4c40-b663-e749a0a9163f

      1. And how much does their CEO make in a year?? It is way up there!! she gets $652K a year plus 6 weeks paid vacation and all expenses paid. It will take a lot of donations to get to that amount!!

    2. The Canadian Red Cross gives 86% of donations to the designated cause. They have one of the lowest administration costs (14%).

      1. This is true. In the U.S. it gives 90% to the mission. The Red Cross CEO is the lowest paid NPO CEO. I’m a RC volunteer and proud to be a part of the work they do. Just wish I could be there to help my fellow Canadians, but so many incredible folks are helping. Humanity at its best! Items listed above are fine. It’s homemade food, old clothing they can’t take. Sal Army only takes packaged food and they typically work with the RC. Bless everyone who is helping!!

    3. He didn’t say only donate money. He is more or less stating think about what is required at the moment before you pack up everything in your home you know longer want and send it up there. We can’t all run up there with a fuel truck of gas, we have long ago donated our strollers and car seats. Don’t just talk to talk, think!

  52. I don’t know about this… I mean, makes sense, but… I just sent a car full of pet food up there. I know first hand that pets often suffer a lot, just because there is no food, litter, and nowhere to buy it during the disaster. I did this in 2013 as well. I know this type of goods are needed and often overlooked.

  53. With the Federal Government announcing today that they will be matching individual charitable donations made to the Canadian Red Cross in support of the disaster relief, it made my decision easy for where I’ll be sending my donation. Right here http://www.redcross.ca/
    Clearly everyone has the same idea as me, right now, because their website is currently not working. Makes me proud to be a Canadian!

  54. a friend was in the mobile home park affected by the tornado in edmonton many years ago. Generous people collected and distributed items that they thought the people would need – blankets, hygiene items, etc. but they people that really needed these items had lost their homes and were being sheltered elsewhere. The people whose homes were still standing didn’t need these items as they still had therefore all these generous donations were redistributed to anyone who wanted or needed them but the intended recipients never did get them. Before you collect items, make sure that they can be used/distributed and are needed. Yes pet food is required but where? Are the shelters in Ft. Mac still up and operational or have the pets been relocated? Great idea to have diapers/strollers/baby items at airport for those being evacuated BUT make sure the items are needed and that they don’t have thousands already sitting there. DONATED TO THE RED CROSS who will ensure that all those who need will be provided with what they actually need not what we perceive them to need

  55. I think this kind of black and white thinking is flawed.
    The fact is that many people have immediate need for STUFF. Specifically, clothing, diapers, personal hygiene items, gasoline, etc., are things that we KNOW are needed immediately, and if we have a way of getting those items delivered to these people, they will get used.

    But this does bring up a good point as well. Our office is gathering items to donate, and they are asking for household items, when the fire isn’t even over. To think that anyone needs household items right now, IS completely rediculous. Nobody needs a bunch of crap to have to cart around when they are homeless, aside from the essentials.
    Just THINK about what you’re donating, and use some common sense!

    1. Hey Polly, It’s not so black and white. This type of collection need to be done on a one to one basis to fill an individual ask, not bulk collection to donate to an organization that can’t accept it.

  56. Great article and I agree completely. I donated to Bridge City Chrysler, a Lethbridge dealership who is matching donations before giving proceeds to the Red Cross. Of course the Liberal government will then match this donation. I suggest everyone look for local businesses that will match donations and then donate to the Red Cross, to make our donations go farther.

    1. I may be wrong but I think the federal government is matching only individual donations to the area Cross, not corporate donations. Their statement t says they will match individual donations so I assume that means no match for corporate donations.

  57. Fort McMurray has been good to alot of Canadians for alot of years .Many transient workers from all over Canada when faced with recession have headed west to make a better life for their families often leaving families members behind and with recent economic set backs in the oil industry many have struggled .Many people fleeing Fort Mac have rebuild their life’s.Think of business owners that employed many people have lost their businesses .maybe I’m off in left field but helping to get people home to rebuild their lives should be of importance.Many workers will lose livelyhoods .I reach out to employers across Canada to reach out to those in need because it’s not temporary help that is needed it’s long term solutions and if people want tyo volunteer then when the fires stop blazing and the smoke clears skilled help will be needed to help this community rebuild and and prosper once again for all Canadians. Insurance dosent cover everything and help will be needed .sending materials items will not help everything .As far as government assistance make every family gets benefits that are deserved..Every Canadian has family or friends out there .Bless you Fort Mac in your time of need

  58. […] As the fire continues to rage around Fort McMurray, Alberta, it’s natural to want to help, and Albertans – and Canadians, and others around the world, are stepping up in a heart-opening outpouring of generosity.  Over and over again, authorities have emphasized, the best thing you can do is donate to the Red Cross or other NGO involved in the effort.  Donating goods, or showing up uninvited to volunteer, can often cause more trouble to those on the ground, than your heartfelt contribution can ever be worth to them.  Edward McIntyre, who was involved in disaster relief efforts in the Slave Lake fire in 2011, and the Calgary floods in 2013, explains why, in his piece,  When Helping Hurts: Why you should never donate physical goods during a disaster: […]

  59. […] The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is the disaster relief branch of the United Methodist Church. UMCOR is a first responder in these type of situations. Think Red Cross. UMCOR is the Red Cross of the United Methodist Church. At this point, there is not a whole lot that can be done, which is difficult to accept. Donations, no doubt, will be made by good-hearted, well-meaning people. These donations, however, may cause more damage than good. […]

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