News August 28, 2015

Close to $280,000 raised for 5,000 food hampers donated to fire evacuees

Led by donations of $50,000 each from PotashCorp, Saskatchewan Blue Cross, and the Kitsaki Group of Companies, a total of $277,872 was raised for emergency food hampers provided to forest fire evacuees as they returned to their homes earlier this summer.

All told, 11 semi-trailer truckloads of food were shipped by Northern Resource Trucking at no charge to more than two dozen communities throughout the North – from La Loche to Southend.

“The fire evacuations created a unique local food security challenge,” said Jochen Tilk, PotashCorp President and CEO. “Thousands of northerners had no time to plan ahead before they left their homes. Power outages in some areas meant refrigerators were off and food was spoiled. We were happy to be part of a team that helped people get re-established at home.”

“The forest fire situation this summer was devastating for residents of northern Saskatchewan with many forced to leave their homes without warning,” said Arnie Arnott, President and CEO of Saskatchewan Blue Cross. “We were pleased to partner with other organizations to ensure they had support when they were able to return home and we want to thank all of those organizations and individuals who contributed to this effort.”

“It is wonderful to be a part of a team that made a difference for so many families. Much of the food was actually delivered door-to-door by volunteers and was greatly appreciated by the evacuees trying to get settled into their own homes again,” said Russell Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Kitsaki.

As many as 13,000 people were forced from their homes in July as fires raged across the North.

Identifying the communities that needed help, amassing the food and coordinating the deliveries was a huge logistical undertaking led by Kitsaki, Athabasca Catering and Pratts Wholesale, an Athabasca supplier. The companies capitalized on their networks of contacts and familiarity with the North during this critical stage of the project.

The Regina Food Bank provided its specialized food-packing facility and access to its volunteer workforce, including dozens from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to get the hampers packed on a tight deadline. Contents included staples like flour, sugar and potatoes, along with rice, soups and other canned goods. Thanks to the Food Banks of Saskatchewan, donations to the fund-raising effort could be made online through its website.

“From the north to the south, everyone pulled together to respond,” said Steve Compton, executive director of the Regina Food Bank and interim head of the Food Banks of Saskatchewan. “The response from our volunteers was amazing. We were very proud to be involved with this initiative.”

Among the monetary donations were the following:

United Steelworkers Humanity Fund – $22,000

Lions Club – $13,000

CIBC – $10,000

First Nations Bank of Canada – $10,000

MNP LLP – $10,000

RBC Dominion – $10,000

SaskPower – $10,000

SaskTel – $10,000

Trimac Transportation Ltd. – $10,000

Procon Mining & Tunnelling – $5,000

SGEU Education Sector – $5,000