Kamloops' largest donation centre for evacuees relocates

By Jill Sperling
July 19, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: July 19, 2017 - 6:24pm

KAMLOOPS — It started as a group of moms collecting donations on Facebook, and quickly grew into the largest donation centre for wildfire evacuees in Kamloops.

The independent donation centre has been running out of the Sandman Signature Hotel since July 9, and now it's moving again. 

"We need the space," said co-founder Jamie Maclean. "We've kind of outgrown this room, and the Sandman has a banquet, and Moxie's has a banquet coming in for four days. They've tried everything they can to rearrange it, to accommodate us, but they have been outstanding in helping us, supporting us, so we decided that we would leave and give them back their banquet room, and find a space that was bigger, that could accommodate us better." 

The new space is located on the third floor of the CIBC building at the corner of 3rd Ave and Landsdowne St. Here, evacuees will be able to pick up the hygiene, food, and clothing items they didn't have time to pack. 

So far, thousands of evacuees have utilized the service.

"Yesterday we probably had anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 people come through here, like evacuees coming through here to collect stuff that they needed, so it's been quite busy," said co-founder Dusti Naud. "It was probably one of our busiest days, but it's just a steady stream." 

In addition to picking up much needed items, some evacuees have decided to lend a hand. 

"We've been volunteering over at the ESS as well and coordinating, especially when Williams Lake came in," said 108 Mile Ranch evacuee, Jim Jamieson. "This is what we do. When we got the call today, (we had) to come out."

Jamieson is one of dozens of volunteers assisting with the relocation, a giant task thanks to the huge number of donations that have come in from all over the province. 

"Everything, from household appliances, clothing, food, toiletries, hygiene kits, toilet paper, basically a wide variety of everything, animal food, cages," said co-founder Kerri Fournier. "Basically everything, we're accepting anything and everything and coordinating with all the groups here. Except for furniture. We're not taking furniture, we don't have a site for those things."

Two of the organizers, Maclean and Naud, gave up a vacation to the Oregon Coast in order to run the donation centre. 

"Totally OK with it," Naud said. "This is much more important than going on a holiday. I would rather be helping people than sitting on the beach thinking about all the people that need our help and feeling  like we should be here."

The donation centre at the CIBC building is expected to remain open as long as there are evacuees in need. 

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