N.S. wildfires: Donations, relief efforts show ‘in the hardest times is when we shine’ – Halifax | Canadian

Volunteers have been coming through the doors at Mission Mart almost as fast as donations.

The Halifax thrift store supporting Souls Harbour Rescue Mission is now also supporting people displaced by wildfires.

“It’s been so moving to see Nova Scotians come together and support at the drop of a hat, no questions asked, on a moment’s notice,” says Lauren Goertz, the donor care specialist with Souls Harbour. “Everybody has been eager to support and just rally together.”

For evacuees who show up, Goertz says people just need to speak with a manager.

“Someone will be there to walk through the process of getting free items off the floor that they might be in need of.”

Benefit concert

On Friday, a Wildfire Recovery Concert will be held at the Scotiabank Centre with lots of high-profile local talent, with proceeds going to the United Way Wildfire Recovery Appeal.

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Matt Mays, a singer-songwriter from Dartmouth, knew he wanted to help immediately.

“Everybody’s really eager to lend a helping hand at home,” Mays says in a Zoom interview with Global News. “I just feel really lucky to be a part of it I guess and to be able to help.”

Mays hopes the power of music will help people “let loose.”

“Because they deserve to, we deserve to, and especially the victims of the fire deserve to have a night where everybody can relax and just have some fun and raise some money to help out people in need.”

People in need are also getting support from United Way Halifax, which has received about $800,000 in donations so far.

“Our focus is people who are experiencing poverty,” says Sue LaPierre, the director of social impact strategy. “Some people may have been in poverty before this event, but it’s also possible that this event pushed some people into poverty.”

The organization says a number of needs have already been identified, including things like food.

“You maybe didn’t lose your home but you may have lost a fridge and freezer full of food,” she says.

Matching Red Cross donations

The Red Cross has received $ 1.9 million in financial donations as of Tuesday afternoon.

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The provincial and federal governments are both matching each dollar raised, eventually tripling the total.

The organization is also responsible for distributing the $500 announced by the Nova Scotia government for evacuees.

More than 8,400 households — totalling more than 21,000 people — have registered with the Red Cross in the province since the fires began.

Bill Lawlor, a spokesperson for the Atlantic region, says they’re working with other non-profits and communities to figure out the best way to address the need.

“These needs are going to evolve quite significantly in the days ahead,” he says. “That will permit us some time to work with these other non-profits — both the larger non-profits and those at the community level — to determine, ‘OK, what are the gaps that you’re observing? What are some of the gaps that people are telling us directly for those who have registered with the Red Cross?’

“Then, we’ll be able to design something that’s truly a comprehensive assistance program.”

Gaps from insurance coverage will need to be identified, he says.

But rather than prioritizing speed, he says it’s vital the organization gets its relief program right, meaning there’s no timeline for the distribution of funds.

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‘Thankful to be a Nova Scotian’

While it’s been a chaotic time for many, people involved in assisting others say it’s been an eye-opening experience.

“It’s been incredible for me to be here and really be a place of hope and help for anybody who walks through the doors,” Goertz says. “I’m so thankful to be a Nova Scotian, I’m so thankful for the East Coast community and I think in the hardest times is when we shine.”

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