Local charities, businesses and individuals step up to support evacuees, firefighters

Stepping up to help

UPDATE 8:37 a.m.

United Way British Columbia is supporting evacuees and emergency responders as firefighters continue to battle during one of the worst wildfire seasons in BC’s history.

"This is a moment when unity and support matter most. Our hearts go out to all those impacted by the wildfires, and we are determined to stand alongside them throughout the journey of response and recovery,” said Michael McKnight, president and CEO of United Way British Columbia. “United Way BC’s deep-rooted presence within communities empowers us to act swiftly and effectively, especially when crisis strike.”

United Way BC is providing essentials like food, water, blankets, personal care items and gas cards for evacuees.

The non-profit organization is also working closely with community agencies to support a meal delivery initiative for seniors who may find themselves confined indoors due to the thick haze of wildfire smoke.

To contribute to the United for BC Wildfire Recovery Fund, visit: uwbc.ca/campaign/wildfires

“We are here for the long haul,” McKnight adds.

UPDATE 7:01 a.m.

The Okanagan Chabad House has begun providing free bread and care packages for evacuees and the host families who have stepped up to help those displaced from their homes and emergency services personnel who have had to leave their homes to travel to the Central Okanagan to provide relief and support to firefighters and other emergency response personnel.

"1000's of loaves of free bread and packages being prepared for evacuees and their host families," says Rabbi Shmuel Hecht.

Packages include any of the following items:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Dog Food
  • Baby Wipes
  • Toys for the Children
  • Pillows
  • Fresh Bread

"Thought I’d share. People can order online and they deliver. Call the Rabbi with any questions, please
250.575.5384, [email protected]," Hecht.

UPDATE 10:55 a.m.

The Kelowna Taiwanese Cultural Society and Tzu Chi Canada from Vancouver are stepping up to help support
those who need transportation to leave the Central Okanagan by organizing a bus to evacuate people headed to Vancouver.

"Especially for UBCO students who have no other means of transportation out of Kelowna, please kindly reach out to us at [email protected]," says Yvonne Chen with KTCS.

"Please help us to reach those in need," says Chen.

UPDATE 9:06 a.m.

YMCA Fire Evacuee Support: With ongoing wildfires affecting our community, the YMCA of Southern Interior BC is offering free access to Y-Operated facilities for all fire evacuees.

Complimentary Access: Evacuated households will be granted complimentary access to the Kelowna Family Y, Downtown Y, and H2O Centre, including showers, fitness centers, swimming pools and a place for households to spend time together to escape from the stress of displacement.

How to Access the YMCA's Fire Evacuee Support: Fire-evacuated households can access the Kelowna Family Y, Downtown Y, and H2O Centre (city owned and Y operated facility) by presenting identification (Driver’s License or any other form of ID) that confirms your address within the fire-evacuated areas.

UPDATE 7:14 p.m.

More examples of generosity in the Okanagan Saturday.

The Kelowna Hindu Cultural Society has been providing non-stop Indian food to evacuees who have been forced from their homes at Prospera Place and Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna between noon and 9 p.m.

They are serving rice, butter chicken, samosa, naan, curry, pizzas and burritos with water and juice.

Ashok Tyagi with the Kelowna Hindu Cultural Society also says, "if any students need accommodation or food please contact our society.

"Some Indian restaurants are supporting us as well Made in India, Panago Pizza, Buster Pizza, Quesada, Samosa Place, Hot Pot restaurants, Apni Rasoi Taste of India, also any essential workers can get packed food free, unlimited," says Tyagi.

For more information or to reach Tyagi click here.

UPDATE 2:25 p.m.

Central Okanagan Emergency Operations is asking restaurants and commercial kitchens to hold off on bringing by any more food donations to Prospera Place at this time.

Instead, they are going to set up a schedule to ensure food doesn’t go to waste. There is currently no way to store the food on site.

Those who want to help can stop by Prospera Place and speak to the volunteers to get on the schedule for food deliveries to ensure the evacuees and volunteers are being well fed.

ORIGINAL 1:25 p.m.

Dozens of individuals and organizations have stepped up to offer help during the wildfire emergency.

Evacuees should first and foremost register with Emergency Social Services for assistance.

But here are just of few local groups and how they are helping:

Fundraiser: Kot Auto Group is also rising funds for residents to support residents of Kelowna and West Kelowna impacted by the fires. They have started a GoFundMe that is already at $30,000.

"I will probably turn it over to somebody like a charity, but right now we are trying to collect the money and then turn it over to anyone who has lost their houses or had damage to their houses," said owner and president John Kot.

Childcare: Mamas for Mamas is offering free childcare on Saturday to families who are displaced by the fires. The poverty relief agency has set up at Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

"Mamas for Mamas has available drop-in childcare today at Trinity Baptist if you need support," said the charity on social media. Trinity church is located at 1905 Springfield Road in Kelowna.

The charity is also accepting diapers, wipes, clean and gently used clothing, including pajamas, as well as non-perishable foods.

Jillian Harris, a West Kelowna resident and Mamas for Mamas advocate, and a well-known designer, has been watching her home in West Kelowna closely over the last 48 hours.

"I have been told probably a dozen times that the farmhouse is gone and then another dozen times that it is OK. We still don't know," she wrote on Instagram. "I am so sorry to everyone who's lost their home. The last 24 hours have been absolutely unbelievable."

The Karma Market is closed Saturday because many volunteers are themselves on evacuation order. They hope to reopen it Sunday from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.

Fundraiser: Mamas for Mamas is encouraging the community to donate monetarily. They will use the funds to help those who are displaced or who lost their homes. "Or we will be using these funds to help rebuild," Harris added.

More fundraisers: The Canadian Red Cross is also accepting donations to support evacuees. The United Way has an ongoing BC-wide fund for wildfire recovery. The Central Okanagan Foundation has launched a wildfire relief fundraiser.

RV Parking: Mamas for Mamas is also letting the public know that If you and your family need a place to park your car/truck RV you can head to 1200 Leathead rd (the old Toyota building).

The District of Peachland will temporarily allow overnight parking on Beach Avenue for evacuated residents facing wildfire threat. Potable water fountains are available at the Peachland Community Centre, Swim Bay and Lambly Park.

“Our hearts go out to our neighbours and friends who are facing this threat. We are all in this together and if we can help, we will," Mayor Patrick Van Minsel said.

Animals and Pets

  • Animals Lifeline Emergency Response Team (ALERT) and Lend A Paw Pet Food Foundation: if anyone was unable to bring their pets or livestock when they evacuated their properties can call ALERT (250-809-7152) and they can coordinate attempts to get the animals out.
  • Lend A Paw is asking that people drop off donations of food and other pet supplies at the two Kelowna locations of Tail Blazers, or you can make a donation through their website. More details.

Free food: The owner of three Pita Pit locations in Kelowna (Downtown, Rutland and across from the airport) and two Freshslice Pizza locations (Downtown and Orchard Park) is offering free food to firefighters, RCMP and members of the general public affected by the wildfires.

The owner of Made in India is also offering to feed people affected by the fire at any of his Central Okanagan restaurants.

The local Sikh temples are also open offering hot meals and a group of taxi drivers is making sandwiches to deliver to Prospera Place.

General assistance: Khalsa Aid Canada, a renowned humanitarian organization, has stepped up to provide essential aid to those affected by the wildfires. They are working to deliver food, water, hygiene items, bedding, and other necessities.

Their primary focus has been on providing immediate relief to those affected, with a special emphasis on firefighters who have been tirelessly battling the flames and those individuals who have been evacuated.

Khalsa Aid Canada has extended an open invitation to anyone in need of assistance. Contact Jasbir Dhillon at (250) 300-0049 or Navjit Khun Khun at (250) 575-7355 for help.

Castanet will do our best to update this story as additional offers for help come in.

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