British Columbia Division

The Salvation Army Community Response Unit and Emergency Disaster Services Team

Here when disaster strikes

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The Salvation Army helps those in need in the Okanagan community every Christmas, but what many may not know is they also lend a helping hand throughout the entire year.

Last summer, during the busy fire season in B.C., The Salvation Army put in more than 1,000 volunteer hours helping those impacted by the wildfires.During the blaze in Rock Creek, that destroyed 30 homes and several out-buildings, The Salvation Army worked with evacuated families to get them registered and find places to stay among other needs. The team of volunteers also worked with the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team to foster the animals and support the owners.The Salvation Army Community Response Unit and Emergency Disaster Services Team (EDS) prepared and served meals, delivered water, prescriptions, pet food, diapers and groceries to help support the Rock Creek community. Now, The Salvation Army is preparing for another fire season and is putting out the call to find 50 people who would be willing make themselves available when disaster strikes.

Sonia Withers the Community Ministries Outreach co-ordinator says it takes all kinds of skills and availability to make up the teams."We have executives to retired seniors and everyone in between,” she says. “We cannot predict when disasters are going to happen and when they do, not everyone is available to help. It becomes necessary for us to have an army of trained people to call on to make up the teams. "The primary role of volunteers would to be support, notes communications co-ordinator Pam Grimm. “We are not putting out fires, but we do feed, hydrate and encourage our fire teams,”  Grimm says. “When people see the news about those impacted by the fires it is a normal reaction to feel badly for those families and then wonder what they can do to help. By joining our EDS teams, you literally can help. Anyone who has a heart for serving others and willing hands can help serve our community during these times.”

Some examples of what EDS Volunteers do are:

  • register evacuees,
  • help prep food, cook and serve meals
  • drive trucks
  • load and prepare equipment
  • hand out water
  • make phone calls to find resources

If you are interested in finding out more or would like to help, an information session is being held Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at The Salvation Army Community Life Centre at 200 Rutland Road S, Kelowna.To register for the EDS information session please email Sonia at soniaw@kelsa.ca or call, 250-765-3450. For more information about the Salvation Army EDS program go to kelownasalvationarmy.ca.

Story Credit –  Jennifer Zielinski

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