Donations pour in for wildfire evacuees

This pile of donations at Mission Mart in Bayers Lake, N.S., has been dubbed 'the mountain.'  (Paul Poirier/CBC - image credit)
This pile of donations at Mission Mart in Bayers Lake, N.S., has been dubbed 'the mountain.' (Paul Poirier/CBC - image credit)

Community donations continue to pour in for the thousands of people displaced by Halifax-area wildfires.

Mission Mart, a thrift store in Bayers Lake, N.S., run by the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, put out the call for donations last Monday and they haven't stopped coming in since, according to donor care specialist Lauren Goerz.

Goerz said they've received thousands of bags of clothes, along with other items like shoes, toys, houseware and more.

Paul Poirier/CBC
Paul Poirier/CBC

The pile of donations has grown so big that it reaches the storage room's ceiling. Staff and volunteers have started calling it 'the mountain.'

"The community has been so generous, and I'm just blown away," said Goerz. "All the staff here are just blown away by how much everyone has really rallied together."

As of Sunday afternoon, Goerz said over 150 evacuees have come in to collect donations, free of charge, and that number continues to grow every day.

She said many of them are surprised when they learn the items are free. Some even offer to pay.

"For some people, it's just shock that we're able to help them so much, no questions asked," said Goerz.

'Proud to be a Maritimer'

One donor, Mike Bujold, said he's doing anything he can to help out during these difficult times.

He dropped off clothes, coats and even some non-perishable food items to Mission Mart.

"This is what Atlantic Canada is all about," said Bujold. "It's a testament again of, you know, what kind of people live in Atlantic Canada. I'm proud to be a Maritimer today."

Charles P. Allen High School is also accepting donations for their students who have been affected by the fires.

They're asking for more specific items like gift cards, school supplies, cosmetics, toiletries and pet supplies, said principal Stephanie Bird.

Paul Poirier/CBC
Paul Poirier/CBC

The school is open for the first time since the fires on Monday, and Bird said, "It won't be school as normal."

"We want to welcome [the students] back," she said. "We want them to have an opportunity to talk about what's happened if they choose to."

Bird said several Charles P. Allen High students have lost their homes, while others are waiting with their families to return to their homes and assess the damage.

Social workers, psychologists and guidance counselors are being made available to students at the school, according to Bird.

"We just want our students to come back in and we want to make sure that they're doing OK," she said.

Haley Ryan/CBC
Haley Ryan/CBC

Full Gospel Church in Bedford, N.S., has also been accepting items, with Monday being their last day for donations. People affected by the fires are able to pick up items from the church until Wednesday.

Mission Mart and Charles P. Allen High School are both continuing to accept donations from the public. Items can be dropped off to Mission Mart everyday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., and at the school during school hours throughout this week.

Oceane Doucet/Radio-Canada
Oceane Doucet/Radio-Canada

Donations for evacuees of Shelburne County fires are also being collected at the Union Church in Lower Ohio.