VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As people across the country rally to help evacuees from Fort McMurray due to the wildfires, you’ve likely been hearing about trucks being filled with food and toiletries to send to Alberta.
But a man from Sylvan Lake, Alberta who volunteered following a couple of major disasters says while the intentions are good, there are better ways to help.
Donating money is a lot more effective, according to Edward McIntyre, who volunteered in shelters after the wildfire in Slave Lake five years ago and helped with distribution of goods during the floods in Calgary in 2013.
He was at reception centres run by municipalities that accepted goods, and says they ended up with mountains of stuff they had no way of distributing.
“If you look at some of the articles online, a lot of that stuff got landfilled in the end because it was impossible to distribute that mass amount of goods to a bunch of different organizations.”
McIntyre adds Canada and the province of Alberta are well prepared to make sure there is clothing and food at reception centres through disaster services.
“The government and non-governmental organizations have connections — pre-existing agreements — to have these things in place. So, the best thing that you can do if you want to donate physical goods is to donate them to the local charity that you would normally donate them to,” he says.
“If you give clothing to say, the Salvation Army who have locations across Canada, they’re connected to be able to send resources from place to place in order to make sure that needs are fulfilled. The same thing is true of food banks. There’s a whole network of food banks and if food is needed in different areas, they can make sure that those things are sent.”
McIntyre says it’s important to realize that everyone in the country is doing the same thing. “So, the amount of goods that are being collected and delivered is astronomical and the reality is right now, there’s not a place to put these things.”
“People are out of their homes and we don’t really know the extent of the damage and what the actual needs of these people are at this time,” he adds.
McIntyre says your dollar will go many times further when you donate to an organization like the Red Cross than you could personally make it go.
Rogers is giving free long distance/texting to Fort McMurray until May 17 and we are partnering with the Red Cross. If you would like to donate $10, text the word FIRES to 45678 or 30333 for a $5 donation.