Summer clothes in all sizes, new underwear and swimming towels for kids are among the list of top donations the Salvation Army is asking for from people who want to help wildfire evacuees.
Val Wiks is the community ministries coordinator with the Salvation Army in Regina. She explained that the evacuees were only given vouchers for one set of clothing at the beginning of evacuation, but now they are offering more.
Adults can now get vouchers for two sets of clothing at a time, and kids under five can get three changes of clothes.
She says the reason for the limit is not to stop people from getting what they need, it’s because there are space restrictions at the evacuation centres.
“Let’s say yesterday I wrote a family a voucher, if today they need clothes, I’ll write them another voucher. They can get as many vouchers as they need,” she said.
Earlier this week, individuals and outside groups started setting up their own donation warehouses where evacuees can pick up as much as they want to take. Social Services told the groups to take all the donations to the Salvation Army.
Wiks says Salvation Army Thrift Stores are not giving vouchers for toys or games. However, different groups from the community are already offering entertainment options for evacuees.
The Regina Public Library has set up a mobile library, and the Saskatchewan Science Centre is also giving free passes to evacuees.
“Part of the issue becomes when these people go back home, they’re going back in the same vehicles they came in and they’re not going to have a lot of extra room to take the extra stuff and then it needs to be decided what happens to it at the end,” Wiks said.
The Salvation Army is also offering afternoon and evening snacks at the University of Regina evacuation centre and preparing 1,000 bag lunches for evacuees when they are allowed to make the long trip home. She says if people want to donate to the snack program it would be better to donate cash to offset the costs of food.
Red Cross is not allowing any unregistered volunteers inside evacuation centres due to security risks. However, if people want to volunteer they can sign up at the Salvation Army and Wiks will find them a job – either writing vouchers or preparing snacks.
She says the thrift stores have already brought in extra staff members to sort donations.