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‘Amazing’ community spirit seen for Shuswap wildfire evacuees

‘Anything we’ve needed… no one has said no’
The Shuswap Children’s Association’s Nikki Wilson, Melissa Evans, Tanya Timoffee, Rachel Richardson, Tommy Corston, Trish Olin and Melissa Adrian hold some of the items donated for families displaced by wildfire. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Staff at the Shuswap Children’s Centre are grateful for support received from the community for wildfire evacuees.

The Salmon Arm non-profit is operating as the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s emergency centre for infant and toddler supplies. For this function, the Centre’s Melissa Evans explained they rely entirely on donations, and they’ve seen an outpouring of generosity from different groups, individuals and local businesses.

“The community spirit has been absolutely amazing,” said Evans. “A lot of our evacuees have toddlers and yesterday we almost completely ran out of diapers and… it’s just been amazing how everybody has come together. We phoned No Frills and Askew’s and within 20 minutes we had diapers , we didn’t have to turn anyone away.”

Evans said a collective effort has gone into supporting families displaced by Shuswap wildfires. She said the Kelowna branch of Mamas for Mamas came through with a truck load of diapers and infant formula, while Salmon Arm’s Ihvory Parlor & Brand has been collecting games and other activities.

“We had a family that came in that was evacuated and living in a tent, and we were able to give their kiddos some activities to do,” said Evans. “Anything we’ve needed, we’ve asked for on social media or just made a phone call and no one has said no. It’s just so incredible. These are definitely uncertain times but the love from the community, it has been amazing.”

The main emergency centre in Salmon Arm is located at the 5th Avenue 50-Plus Activity Centre, 170 5 Ave. SE. This location is where evacuees are being asked to register to ensure they get supplies and support. The centre is accepting very few, if any, donations of food, clothing or any other supplies currently, as they are overwhelmed with things like fruit, vegetables and bottled water and don’t have space to keep these things, said Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) staff.

Monetary donations can be sent at, by selecting Shuswap Community Foundation Emergency Response Fund. People being sent to hotels will likely have need for food and supplies once they get settled, said staff, or once they’re set up for camping in the various areas in town accommodating RVs and trailers. People don’t often want to carry extra stuff with them away from registration sites, said the SEP.

An official list of where donations are most useful was shared by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Emergency Operation Centre.

The SAFE Society has been collecting various donations. To find out more, call 250-832-9616.

Diapers, baby food and other children’s supplies can be donated to the Shuswap Children’s Association at 240 Shuswap Ave. NE, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Second Harvest, at 360 Alexander St. NE, is accepting fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and non-perishables Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to noon; Wednesdays, 2-6 p.m.; and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Salvation Army Salmon Arm ministry is offering showers, laundry, food, N-95 masks and additional support at the Lighthouse Community space, at 441 3 St. SW, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As well, the organization has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s local branch to offer mental health support and other services through the coming week and will accept food donations.

The Eagle Valley Community Resource Centre is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 1214 Shuswap Ave. in Sicamous, also accepting food donations.

Toiletries and hair care can be dropped off at Destination Hair and Spa, 246 Shuswap St., in Salmon Arm. Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Red Barn in Sicamous is also currently accepting food and toiletries,10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Read more: Sicamous community steps up to collect donations for wildfire evacuees

Shuswap Total Fitness, located at 2450A 10th Ave. NE in Salmon Arm, is offering its showers and sauna from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for firefighters and evacuees to freshen up, providing towels and shampoo.

Read more: Flights resuming at Kelowna International Airport

Read more: ‘Pulling together in terrifying times’: Trudeau visits wildfire impacted Okanagan
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