Airdrie woman helps flood victims through High River Evacuee Adopt-a-Family
When the massive flooding occurred in Southern Alberta on the weekend of June 22, Chantelle Powers, a stay-at-home mom, and four other Airdrie and area moms got to work collecting items for victims in High River.
“When we started up we had some personal friends and family affected,” Powers said.
The simple undertaking of collecting a few donations of household goods for friends and families has now blossomed to include helping more than 160 families in what is called the High River Evacuee Adopt-a-Family project.
“It’s definitely gone way further than we thought it would,” Powers said.
The project’s Facebook page has 4,451 ‘likes’ and is the best place to get up-to-date information on what the project needs, how to register as a family who is looking for help, and how to adopt-a-family in need.
Powers said when a family registers with the project, the family is contacted in order to get a better understanding of the situation they are in and how many people are in the family.
“We get a list of specific sizes and needs for each family,” Powers said.
Powers said when a family is ‘adopted’ she tries to gather things from her massive stockpile of donations and then asks the individual ‘adopting’ the family to provide items Powers doesn’t have.
She said when the project first got up and running on Facebook, they had more than 500 “likes” in the first 24 hours with people as far away as England offering to help.
“It’s been amazing,” she said of all the help and donations the project has received.
Project Linus in Airdrie, an non-profit organization that provides blankets to children experiencing a traumatic event, donated 150 handmade blankets, a bra supplier in Calgary has committed to giving every woman registered with the project a brand new bra, the Calgary Volunteer Firefighters gathered a large donation from Proctor and Gamble, and Tide and other individuals who have given gift cards of up to $1,500.
“We didn’t expect it to take off as much as it did,” she said, “or that it would take up a lot of our time.”
Powers said herself and one other mom from Calgary now run the project because the other women involved have had to limit their participation due to other commitments.
She said her home was overtaken by the bins of donations she’s received for the project. It was only recently that Powers and her family of six could access their kitchen again because the room was packed to the brim with supplies for the project.
“(Donations) have definitely slowed down, which is good in a way because our support has also slowed down,” she said of the number of new families registering.
Though, that is not to say there isn’t still a need. The project had been out to deliver care packages to 150 families but the project had 164 families registered as of press time.
“Shoes have been a huge one,” Powers said of the top donation request. “(But) we’ve been able to provide everyone with at least one pair.”
She said the project doesn’t accept cash donations but will accept gift certificates, which they then hand over to the families.
“We haven’t asked for everything to be brand new,” she added, although some companies that have adopted families have purchased all new items.
Powers said the largest family they’ve had register included eight people and the project aims to provide each family member with at least three outfits; one casual, one dressy and one extra one.
She said it was initially hard to get families to accept the help.
“There were so many people that needed help but they didn’t want to or it was hard to accept it,” Powers said.
“We have some that are back in their homes now and no longer need our help but we still have families that are struggling and with no place to live.”