~ Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world ~ Howard Zinn
While I am speaking for myself- I know that there are many people, many Albertans, feeling the same. This last week has been emotionally exhausting- and I am safe in my own home, sleeping in my bed. I truly cannot imagine the physical and emotional turmoil the citizens of Fort McMurray are feeling and our amazing first responders that are our country’s finest heroes.
The compassion that the people in our Province have put forward to all those that have, are and will be affected by the ranging fire in Northern Alberta is beyond awe-admiring. I live over 500 kilometres away from the city and can proudly say how humbled and truthfully, emotional I am from the efforts our community is putting in to help those up north. Within 5 blocks while running errands in the City of Red Deer this afternoon, I saw 7 separate donation areas coordinated by everyday people wanting to collect supplies to send to the evacuation centres and front line responders. SEVEN!!! I can’t even imagine what the rest of the city had arranged, and across Alberta and even western Canada.
And the everyday people that are stepping in to help I believe is unprecedented. Our Province has taken a pretty big slam in the economy this past year, and our community is well known to be an oilfield service community, so was the first to be hit with lay-offs and business closures. It is speculated approximately 1/10 people have lost their jobs within the last 18 months- but by the outpouring of support and donations, you would never know. And I think that is what really gets to me- there are hardworking men/women/children and families fallen on hard times that are struggling for themselves and here they are giving what little they have to help those that have lost it all.
I have seen numerous lemonade, freezie/popsicle stands being set up in front yards manned by children of all ages, hoping to put their services to work and raise money for the Canadian Red Cross. I have seen posts of children from other parts of the world emptying their piggy banks to send money to help. I have seen oilfield companies that are barely keeping their doors open from the recession loading up their trucks/trailers/tanks with food, basic essentials, gasoline, water and driving 500 kilometres north directly to the fire to help those trying to get out. I have seen farmers load up their trailers with hay and drive to the opposite end of the Alberta to deliver for rescued animals. I have seen communities all across our Province banding together and cooking meals, opening their doors/restaurants/hotels, opening their hearts, raising funds in any possible way they can- all to help out extended neighbours. No one asks for anything in return, no one is wondering how this may benefit them- all we want is to help, and by any means we can. Even my own children, in their comprehension of the magnitude of the fire and evacuees have gotten involved- out of nothing but concern, grace and desire to help.
And yes, there are those individuals out there that may not hold the majority opinion of helping our northern neighbours. I had encountered one individual the other day and was very distraught on their perception- but after some time I realized that because of them, I was more inspired by the acts of others and to help. Because it is those individuals that we must show the strength in working together, and in caring together to rebuild a future.
It has never been a secret that we live in the most amazing place in the world- and when disasters like this unfortunately happen, the kind, wholeheartedness of Albertans, Canadians and the support from the rest of the world is what will get them through this.
How you can help:
Facebook Group – Fort McMurray Evacuee Open Source Help Page – lots of help requests, help offered, information sources and links to resources
#ymmFire Fund – Front line charities
Here is a great article from CBC News in assorted charities and ways to get involved both currently and in the future CBC News – How to Help