Kamloops Pit Stop helps displaced Fort McMurray residents

By Tanya Cronin
May 9, 2016 - 4:49pm Updated: May 10, 2016 - 11:43am

KAMLOOPS — It's a one-stop shop for Fort McMurray evacuees to pick up some essential supplies. Kamloops Pit Stop is an organization gathering donated items, everything from food, toiletries, blankets, basic clothing, baby supplies, and pet food. 

The group is also offering information that connects displaced residents with a temporary place to stay. While some groups are preparing goods to send to Alberta 

Kamloops Pit Stop is opening its doors for evacuees passing through, or arriving in Kamloops.

WATCH: Full report by Tanya Cronin

When the flames and smoke grew unnervingly close, 80,000 Fort McMurray residents were forced to flee the rapidly approaching wildfire.

Michael Jeanson's first priority, was his 11 month old son Grayson. 

"It went from a small little stack to the point of blocking out the sun, there was just so much in such a short period of time," says Jeanson.

Making a stressful, split-second decision, Michael picked Grayson up from daycare and had just minutes to pack up and go. Escaping with barely any of their belongings.

"The first thing I thought about was making sure he had clothes and we had some formula and diapers, more of the the necessities for this little guy than really for myself."

Seeking refuge with family in Kamloops, Michael is getting some relief from Kamloops Pit Stop, a storage unit full of hope for wildfire evacuees.

"To see the donations and having areas set up where people like myself and my family can go to receive the things we woudn't otherwise have, or have to purchase on limited funds, it almost brings tears to my eyes."

"We have all the toiletries you would need, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, diapers, baby formula, a lot of clothing, toys for kids, blankets, there's work boots, hard hats, everything under the sun in there," says Elly Grabner, Kamloops Pit Stop Organizer. 
Shocked by the devestation and vast number of displaced Albertans, Elly Grabner and a group of volunteers decided it was vital to fill storage lockers with essemtial supplies, to hand out to what is expected to be an inlfux of evacuees passing through, or arriving in Kamloops this week.

"This is a place where they can get information about government services and programs, accommodation if they need, there's lots of people in Kamloops opening their homes for people to stay in, it's a one stop shop for a lot of different things."

For Michael Jeanson, the opportunity to gather items for his young son, is a positive moment in the middle of so much darkness. As far as he knows, his home has been spared from raging flames, but with 2400 homes and structures levelled, he still isn't certain what he'll return to.

"That's a constant thing that sits in my head, am I going to have my life to return to, will I have my career to return to, is this going to be my permanent situation in the future, or will I be able to resume the life I started in Fort McMurray, there's a lot of uncertainties there," says Jeanson.

Kamloops Pit Stop is located at the Iron Mask Storage Facility, on Bowers Place. Donations of baby clothes, new socks and underwear, non-perishable food items, pet food and more toiletries, are needed. Gift cards for gas, or other big box stores are also needed. For more information, including hours of operation, visit the facebook page Kamloops Pit Stop for Fort McMurray.

Get Polished makes care packages for Fort McMurray evacuees

Residents and several local businesses are stepping up to help thousands of displaced Albertans.

Get Polished on Victoria Street is collecting donations, to provide wildfire evacuees from Fort McMurray, who may be travelling through Kamloops, with a little relief. From non-perishable food items, toiletries, gift cards to grocery stores and drug stores, to clothing, staff are putting together personalized care packages for people to use on their travels.

"Shampoos, conditioners, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, mens care products, so we put together a bunch of family packages, single packages, baby packages with lots of baby items in it, if people get a hold of us personally and need something directly, we can make a package for them, we have cash donations and we can go out and buy stuff that people need," says Tiffany Nowell of Get Polished. 

For more information on how to help, and to request specific donated items, visit the Facebook page Donations for Fort McMurray Families from Kamloops BC or visit Get Polished at 519 Victoria street. 

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