There have been many acts of kindness, large and small, in our area since the Ashcroft Reserve fire began to spread on July 7, devastating communities and evacuating others. From individuals helping out as best they can to corporations donating food and water, countless people have stepped up to the plate.
The latest to provide assistance to those in our community who need help are the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society (SCEFS), Food Banks BC, and Save On Foods. Yoriko Susanj, executive director of SCEFS, explained how, on July 12, a Save On semi-trailer loaded with supplies came to be at the Ashcroft Community Hall, where dozens of willing volunteers helped unload it.
“I heard there was a need,” she said. “People couldn’t get out to shop, or had no cash.” So on Tuesday, July 11 she reached out to her contacts and spoke with Laura Lansink, executive director of Food Banks BC.
“I told her what our need was, and asked if she could get a truck of food out. She said ‘Give me an hour.’ In the meantime, I tried to secure a distribution centre, and went to [Ashcroft chief administrative officer] Michelle Allen asking for use of the community hall or the arena, and got use of the hall starting on July 12.”
Shortly before noon on the 12th, a Save On Foods truck carrying 16 pallets of supplies rolled along Bancroft Street, where a forklift was there to ferry the pallets to the back door of the hall. Inside, dozens of volunteers—recruited by word-of-mouth—formed human chains to sort and stack the supplies, which included baby supplies and formula, bread, peanut butter, soup, pasta, cleaning supplies, pet food, cookies, crackers, oatmeal, and more.
Helping out was Helen (Lehman) Morris, who has been an employee of Save On Foods for 25 years, and is currently the produce manager of the Save On store in Valleyview in Kamloops. “I’m really proud, because this is my home town,” she said.
“Angie Thorne [whose house on the Ashcroft Reserve was lost in the fire] was one of my school friends, and I always kept in touch with her. I heard about [the fire] fairly soon, and when I went into work next day I let the store manager know I was from Ashcroft. But there was already something underway.”
Morris says that Save On Foods is very connected with Food Banks BC, so it was natural for the organization to be in touch with Save On’s head office in Langley; and thus it was that a truck full of food and supplies arrived in Ashcroft on July 12.
“It’s very heartwarming to see so many people,” said Morris, watching the volunteers at work. “To do something for people makes you feel better.”
Susanj says that the donated items are for anyone in the community. “The hall is open to anyone in need of food.”
The Ashcroft Community Hall will be open for all members of the community who are in need between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, July 13 to 14, and again on Monday, July 17.