The Salvation Army and Women’s Resource Society in Fort St. John each received a generous $5000 in donations on Wednesday to help meet the needs of residents this holiday season and into the new year.
Doig River First Nation donated $2500 to each agency, which was in turn matched and doubled by another $2500 donation from its economic development agency, Uujo Developments.
“We need to keep helping out, especially at the holidays. Everybody needs a good Christmas,” said Chief Trevor Makadahay.
The donations will certainly go a long way to help. The Salvation Army has received 200 hamper applications, but expects to hand out more, and is prepared for 300 this month. Hamper numbers are up to 110 at the Women’s Resource Society.
Both agencies say they have seen a dramatic increase in numbers this year. Visits to the Salvation Army food bank peaked over 900 in October, with between 600 to 800 people accessing it on average each month.
The Women’s Resource Society saw as many people within the first six months of 2021 as it saw in all of 2020. Its outreach program has consistently seen more than 1,000 people a month this year — reaching as high as 1,600 in one month — and that's not including a rising need for its family law, poverty law, and harm reduction programs.
“There’s a lot of people in need right now,” said Amanda Trotter, executive director for the Women's Resource Society, noting the agency is responding to multiple crises that have been strained by the pandemic. “We’re dealing with higher numbers than we’ve ever seen before.”
The agencies are supporting people who have lost their jobs or are struggling with medical emergencies and other challenges in their lives, says Jared Braun, executive director for the Salvation Army.
“The need is there,” Braun said. “To be able to be on the front lines is a pretty neat gift, but we can’t do it without support.”
It costs about $75 a month to feed one person through the Salvation Army food bank — or roughly $50,000 a month to meet the needs of all of its clients per month. Another $30,000 worth of food goes out each month from the shelves at the Women’s Resource Society.
“That’s massive. If you look at that on our bottom line, on a monthly basis, that’s huge,” said Trotter, noting the services are largely supported through community donations. “We’re not a food bank; we’re a top-up to the food bank.”
This is the fifth year of holiday giving for Doig River, and Chief Makadahay is also seeing the local needs growing. He thanked Trotter and Braun for their efforts, and is challenging neighbouring nations, community members, and local businesses to support the two agencies in their greatest time of need.
The Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle campaign continues until Dec. 24 at various locations around the city. Braun hopes to raise $100,000 this year, and is looking to finish the campaign on a strong note over the next week and a half. The Women’s Resource Society is also in need of winter clothing donations, and in particular need of warm winter gloves.
“The economy and the way things are going, we really got to help out. A lot of people lost their jobs this year,” Makadahay said. “The jobs went away but the people didn’t. You got to help out, if you can afford it. It will come back to you tenfold, that’s what I believe.”
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