By Greg Price
On June 1, citizens of Fort McMurray are expected to be able to re-enter the city that was devastated by fire last month.
Helping the recovery effort in helping its citizens return to at least some degree of normalcy in their lives is the organization Taber Cares which is putting on a spaghetti supper and silent auction for Fort McMurray Relief on Wednesday, June 15.
“As a group that is democratically governed, we discussed it and decided we should go ahead with it,” said Dave MacDonald of the Taber Kiwanis Club, one of the 16 community- minded organizations from Taber which, as a collective, have formed Taber Cares. “The last meeting we had, we handed out all the jobs which was an easy thing to do. Every group has their strengths and weaknesses, but what they do, they do very well. The Kinsmen are putting on the meal, the Lions are doing the silent auction, we got business people coming in to help, we have Knights of Columbus doing take out. There are no egos, everyone is doing a job and having fun. This is what the people of Taber do.”
On June 15, starting at 2:30 p.m., will be the viewing of the silent auction items at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium, with the viewing going until 4:40 p.m. Then the spaghetti supper and silent auction will commence from 4:30-7 p.m.
Money raised will go to Samaritan’s Purse, the same organization that Taber Cares used when it did its fundraiser in 2013, for the southern Alberta flood response. The Alberta Government and Wood Buffalo regional government are planning a community-by-community re-entry for about 80,000 people that will be phased in over several days in Fort McMurray starting June 1.
When people begin returning, Samaritan’s Purse will partner together with the local churches, their congregations, and other Fort McMurray residents who want to be part of the first wave of volunteers involved in the clean-up and restoration of a city in which more than 2,400 buildings, including hundreds of homes, have been destroyed by forest fires still burning in the region.
“Samaritan’s Purse is now on the ground and they do aftercare as well with clean up and counseling,” said Wanda Renner, chairperson for Taber Cares.
Thanks to donations like from the Taber Cares initiative, the Canadian Disaster Response team arrived in Fort McMurray with 10 staff and two specially equipped Disaster Relief Units—transport trucks, filled with a wide variety of emergency equipment including electrical generators, power tools, wheelbarrows, shovels, and personal protective equipment. Also included were eight pick-up trucks, with some pulling trailers carrying earth-moving bobcats, a mobile warehouse of tools, and a shower unit to enable staff and volunteers to clean up after long days of dirty, tiring work.
“The air quality has been cleared and they are taking two weeks of supplies with them going back to their homes. It will be a challenge and it will be an emotional challenge for everyone, whether their house was burned down or not, it is going to have some impact,” said MacDonald. “We have some children that have been in school in Barnwell and in Taber that are from the Fort McMurray, so the school system has been impacted a bit. This aid we will be giving will be for both short-term and long-term relief. You don’t just rebuild overnight. You have to have a vision and make sure it is built right.”
Groups that are involved with the Taber Cares Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fundraiser are the Anglican Church, Christian Reformed Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, community members at large, Taber Kinsmen Club, Taber Kiwanis Club, Taber Knights of Columbus, Knox United Church, Ladies Auxiliary, Taber Lioness Club, Taber Lions Club, New Life Church, Royal Canadian Legion, St. Augustine’s Church, Taber Evangelical Free Church and United Nations Peace Keepers.
“It is truly wonderful to see in a small town how you make some phone calls to see if there is some interest and it has just flourished (with Taber Cares) and has grown since 2013,” said Renner. “We are very grateful for that commitment with everyone getting together and being on the same page. This is the common humanitarian goal.”
Tickets for the Taber Cares spaghetti supper and silent auction for Fort McMurray relief on June 15 at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium are $12 per person and are available at Bluewave Energy, Taber Co-Op and Taber Scotiabank.
Contact Wanda Renner at 403-331-9464 or Deb Brewin at 403-393-2463 for more details and tickets.