After hearing about the devastating wildfires that consumed Slave Lake recently and the resulting evacuation and destruction of a large percentage of the town, residents of Bonnyville have come together to collect money and donations to help those affected.
The centre of fundraising efforts seems to be the Centennial Centre. B&R Eckels donated a semi truck and C2 staff are accepting donations to fill it. Doris Langridge from the C2 said the truck was already half filled after a single day.
"We have stuff from baby supplies to stuff for adults and seniors, food and water — you name it, anything and everything," she said, also adding some people have given monetary donations.
"It's amazing, it's absolutely amazing. We had vehicles lined up and unloading," she added. "It's amazing, the generosity of people, seeing what people are bringing. They're not just bringing one bag, some of them are coming and dropping off 12, 14 bags of stuff. To me, that's just amazing. It's so nice to see, just knowing that when people need help, Bonnyville and the residents are here."
Schools in the area have used the disaster as inspiration as well, working together to gather donations of items and money for those in need.
Notre Dame Elementary School (NDES) has issued a challenge to other schools within the Lakeland Catholic School District to join in their efforts to raise funds to help support St. Mary of the Lake, the Catholic school in Slave Lake. The school was saved from the fire, and Val Hanson, NDES principal, hopes to gather funds to give to the school so they can disperse it to families in need once the residents of Slave Lake are allowed to return to their homes.
"The Red Cross will come in and do things, but sometimes there are just families that need a little extra that's not covered," she explained. "We want to do this, one Catholic school to another."
The school took donations for the cause at the door of their spring concert on May 19.
Notre Dame High School's student union will be hosting a barbecue to raise funds for the victims of the fires on May 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park across from the school.
The graduating class of l'École des Beaux-Lacs has also been inspired by the tragedy, according to Nicole Jodoin, a teacher at the school.
"They said this is their last hurrah before they graduate," she explained. "They went to all of the classes and asked the kids to bring in various items ... and this morning, a whole whack of students brought stuff in and we brought it to the Centennial Centre."
Now, they are asking students to bring in monetary donations.
Jodoin said the response in the school has been, "amazing, like always. It's a tiny little school, but it's unbelievable the support the parents and the kids give to whatever cause that we ask them to."
Bonnyville Centralized High School is also accepting donations as well as raising funds through bake sales.
"When these people are allowed back in, they're going to need a lot of stuff," said Langridge. "When they're home, those that have homes to go to and those that don't, they're going to need some help."
Thanks to the residents of Bonnyville, they're going to get it.