Canadian authorities have hired the local branch of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency to collect and distribute donations to those affected by a devastating wildfire that prompted the evacuation of the city of Fort McMurray last month.
ADRA Canada has received a grant of 1 million Canadian dollars (US$771,000) from the Alberta government to manage and distribute goods from a warehouse in Edmonton, about 235 miles (380 kilometers) south of Fort McMurray.
The arrangement, which runs through November, expands the work of ADRA in a city where the wildfire forced the flight of nearly 90,000 residents.
“Initial responses in cooperation with the Alberta Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and local Seventh-day Adventist churches focused on immediate needs of food, shelter, and emergency supplies,” James Astleford, executive director of ADRA Canada, said by e-mail. “With the new partnership with the government of Alberta, ADRA Canada will be ensuring that the donated goods from the generous people of Edmonton and the province of Alberta — as well as across the country — will be effectively managed so they meet people’s needs.”
Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs, Danielle Larivee, said the agreement would ease the workload of community agencies that have assisted in the disaster response and allow the focus to move toward long-term aid.
“Moving forward, this partnership ensures Fort McMurray families have coordinated access to the donations they need to get their families back on their feet,” Larivee said in a statement announcing the partnership.
The government said donations were especially needed of canned meat, peanut butter, baby food and formula, new baby bottles, new pillows, new towels, basic first aid kits, children’s shoes, sanitary wipes, and water.
The cause of the fire, which started May 1, has not been determined. Investigators are considering criminal charges if it was started by people as suspected, The Canadian Press news agency reported.
Adventist members have worked long hours to assist those affected by the wildfire. The Edmonton South Seventh-day Adventist Church delivered at least 16 pickup-truck loads of supplies and housed people in its facility. Local Adventist families also opened their homes to the displaced.
ADRA Canada earlier teamed up with the GlobalMedic charity to send hygiene kits containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and towels to 2,000 people.
The $771,000 grant, which was announced this week, covers associated costs for running the warehouse and distribution center including personnel, travel and transportation, furniture and equipment, materials and supplies, and other operation costs, said Ashley Eisele, a manager with ADRA International. The warehouse lease is covered by the government of Alberta in a separate agreement.
Jonathan Duffy, president of ADRA International, said he was proud of ADRA Canada’s work in Fort McMurray.
“This partnership is a well-earned opportunity for ADRA Canada, and it really shines a light on the team’s hard work and on the commitment they’ve shown so far during the Fort McMurray wildfire response,” he said.