By Megan Roth
The entire country is reeling from the fire devastating the northern Albertan oil city of Fort McMurray, all the while scrambling to try and find a way to help the 88,000 people displaced by the fires.
Living in small town Saskatchewan is no different. The people in town are looking for some way to help those in need from the city.
That was how Howard Wong came up with his idea to help. Being a baker making cookie,s seemed like a great option to bring aid to the consumed city.
“We were just thinking of a way to help and selling cookies seemed like a good way to do that,” he said.
A good idea it was. The cookies first went on sale Friday morning and within the hour the cookies were gone. More than 300 cookies sold in an hour.
“I was sort of hoping they would last me all week. I was very surprised when they were gone in an hour or less,” said Wong.
Those coming in to buy the heart shaped cookies, with I (heart) Fort Mac written on them, were not buying singular cookies. No, instead they were buying in larger quantities. Wong believes the least amount of cookies sold to one person was 10.
“The town has been very supportive and have been coming out to help in any way they can. It is a good cause and I think that is why they are coming,” he explained.
The bakery has set a goal to raise at least $10,000 to go towards helping in Fort McMurray. That means the cookies will be sold in the bakery until they make their goal, or until the end of August, if it takes longer to reach their goal.
It doesn’t appear to be much of a problem if in one day they easily made $600 selling all of their cookies. By selling until the end of August it could be possible to raise even more then their projected goal.
With the cookies selling so quickly Wong had to start planning for the next day and the next week. The bakery also advertised on Facebook which Wong said brought in even more business and inquiries for the shop.
“I’ve had messages from Edmonton and Calgary asking about the cookies being sent out to them,” said Wong.
Howard’s Bakery is not the only place in town looking to help those in need in Alberta. The Salvation Army was looking for volunteers who would be willing to spend 14 days helping in the area.
The volunteers are needed not only for the current fire situation but also for the time after.
Captain Charlotte Dean with The Salvation Army in Maple Creek said it is likely volunteers will be needed in the area even after the fire is gone.
“As well, Saskatchewan is gearing up for a potentially bad season of forest fires and evacuations. Past experience has shown that disaster services from The Salvation Army are often needed for several weeks and even months after such events and having ready and able volunteers to go in and provide relief is critical to the success of an operation,” she said.
Currently The Salvation Army has enough volunteers to help with the Fort McMurray fire. However, that does not mean they are not looking for volunteers to have their names down in case other situations occur.
Those wanting to volunteer with The Salvation Army are asked to understand there is no guarantee about where and when you will be sent out to an area.
“…It does help us to know that we are ready for action when the need arises,” Captain Dean said.
In certain circumstances shorter volunteer times can be arrange though 14 day periods are preferred.
Currently members from The Salvation Army are helping to assist first responders on the scene in Fort McMurray. Captain Ed Dean is not currently there but may be called to volunteer.
Those looking to volunteer with The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services are encouraged to contact the church at 306-662-3871.
Alternatively donation can be made be texting FORTMAC to 45678. This will add an extra $10 to your phone bill. You can also donate directly to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 30333. This will add $5 to your phone bill at the end of the month.
The Canadian government has made the commitment to match the donations made to the Red Cross to help those who are now without homes, jobs or necessities of life.
At the time of writing this article, Canadians across the country have donated $30 million to the Red Cross in support of those devastated by the fire.