July 17, 2017

Supporting Kamloops During BC’s Wildfire Crisis

This past Friday, as fires raged through BC’s Interior, communities evacuated hoping their friends and neighbours made it out OK. Our arrival to a hotel in Kamloops for an unrelated work matter was a shared experience with evacuees and volunteers roaming the lobby. Many scurried about, worried looks on their faces as they held hope and tried to hide signs of their desperate worry. We were staying at the Sandman Signature that volunteered their ballroom space for a makeshift evacuee donation centre. Moved by the amount of people in need and the genuine concern of the employees and volunteers, a colleague and I stopped into the donation centre to see how we could help. One of the volunteers jumped at the opportunity to talk to us. They were desperate for food that contained protein. Clean underwear was scarce and they had to turn away families in need of baby food and formula.

We needed to find a way to help.

Through a few quick emails and phone calls back home, the senior leadership at MFI sent $5,000 immediately to help the donation centre. We turned the $5,000 into food, underwear, baby goods, and gas cards. We were grateful to do this on behalf of the company.

BC Wildfire Kamloops DonationWhen we arrived to the donation centre to drop off the items, three of six volunteers were left. Two volunteers by the door that said they would be a minute to help us as another sorted the goods inside. I heard a cheerful voice say, “I will just be a minute, I have to just put my leg on” as a woman readied herself to help us carry boxes in. She  proceeded to put on her prosthetic leg from the knee down and explained to us that she would do her best as she had lost her leg to cancer.

Another woman held the door for us and proceeded to take boxes from the car. You could tell she was in pain. We asked her to sit tight and let us carry them in as they had been working all day. She had tears in her eyes and just kept saying, “thank you, thank you” over and over again. By the time we put the last boxes down, we were blown away by their stories.

The first woman with the prosthetic leg was going for an 11th surgery on her limb impacted by the cancer she had. She expressed how she was just so happy and grateful that she had beat cancer and was adamant that she would never have to get chemo again. The second girl shared with my colleague that she had a small infant at home so her family was on a limited income. She was the one that organized this donation centre and, even though she has an upcoming back surgery, she was happy that she was able to help now. The other person was humbled to help, repeatedly smiling and saying thank you as she fought off exhaustion.

These women, all with their own stories and physical ailments, were providing everything they could for others. We shared stories and tears with them. They shared their gratitude back to all those that sent them good thoughts and donations.

We left with our hearts full of hope for those impacted. I have always been proud to work in an industry that provides help to people in some of the most trying moments of their lives. MFI, and many other industry partners, have furthered this by donating to help those affected and, in doing so, we are doing more than providing goods, we are giving them hope that their lives will again have normalcy.

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