EDITORIAL: Generosity heats up as fires burn

Individuals, businesses, schools and music groups are banding together to raise funds and gather supplies to send to victims.

It has been a difficult couple of weeks for so many people as wildfires continue to sweep through Alberta.

Two weeks ago, thousands of families lost their homes and everything they owned to the wildfire that ravaged Fort McMurray.

On May 3, nearly 90,000 residents were ordered to evacuate the northeast Alberta community as the flames tore through homes and businesses. The Virdi family – Sukh and Manna, and their daughters Suhavi, 4, and Anahi, 2 – were among those who fled with the fire literally licking at their heels.

Originally from Surrey, the Virdis moved to Fort Mac for work and the opportunity the bustling oil town offered. Now staying with Manna’s mother in Surrey, they are grateful to be alive.

When they left Fort McMurray, their house was shrouded in thick smoke and flames roared nearby. Hours later, all that remained of their belongings was the home’s concrete foundation and a burned out shell of a vehicle.

Many more Fort Mac families suffered the same fate.

But ever since the shocking images from the wildfire began circulating, the public has stepped up to the plate.

Individuals, businesses, schools and music groups are banding together to raise funds and gather supplies to send to the fire victims.

Surrey’s A52 Warehouse is coordinating a large clothing and footwear donation this week, A.J. McLellan Elementary held a penny drive, and community groups are hosting dinners and meetings to bring in the cash to help fire victims.  Over the weekend, nine tractor-trailers packed with donated clothing and other supplies from the local Sikh community left Surrey for Edmonton.

Closer to home, on Sunday a massive blaze gutted a residential building in White Rock, leaving at least 100 people homeless. The response from concerned neighbours was swift: Nearly $10,000 was donated to an online fundraising account by Monday and White Rock officials issued a bulletin saying no donated supplies were required.

“The immediate needs of all residents impacted by the fire have been met,” the bulletin said. “We appreciate the generosity of those who have reached out.”

When people are hurting, this area’s generosity certainly burns hot.


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