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Disaster relief set up in Smithers

New initiative is supporting wildfire evacuees and front line workers

Two donations drop-off centres for The Postmen, a non-profit disaster relief group, have been set up in Smithers to support wildfire evacuees and front line workers.

Northern B.C. residents have been offering “overwhelming support” for this new initiative, which was started earlier this month by Burns Lake residents Angelika Posselt and Charlie Rensby.

So far they have received over 1000 pounds of groceries and non-perishable items, 1000 pounds of salt blocks, 2000 pounds of grain, 400 pounds of chicken feed and 68,000 pounds of hay.

“This is what community is supposed to be,” said Posselt. “The response has been incredible so far.”

Created by a group of good samaritans after the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016, The Postmen now have depots set up throughout Alberta and B.C., with Kamloops being the main hub for donations in British Columbia.

Posselt had been volunteering for The Postmen’s Prince George depot before it closed earlier this summer. It closed because a depot was set up closer to the wildfires in Quesnel.

“When the Prince George depot closed I went home,” she said. “I was getting anxious to help because the situation was getting worse and worse. And then I thought, ‘I’ll just do it here.’”

Posselt joined forces with Rensby, who had already been gathering community donations in Burns Lake and taking them to Prince George to support wildfire evacuees. Together, they set up a drop-off centre in Burns Lake and have been gathering the support of nearby communities.

Last week they travelled to Houston and Smithers, setting up drop-off centres and asking local business owners for their support.

“We went around town, talked to people, handed out information and talked to anybody who would listen,” described Posselt. “We’re now working on getting the same thing going in Terrace, Prince Rupert and Kitimat.”

Posselt explained that The Postmen delivers donations to people “outside of the norm.”

“They deliver donations to the people that have stayed behind to fight fires in their own communities such as the volunteer firefighters,” she said. “We try to cover anybody who is in need.”

Posselt said she expects that their efforts will continue long after the wildlife season is over.

“A lot of people need help.”

Items currently needed include pre-paid visa cards, fuel and gift cards, as well as non-perishable items. Cash, clothing and household items are not being accepted.

Donations can be dropped off at the Smithers Lumber Yard and Glacier Toyota. To arrange pick-up donations, call or text Posselt at 250-692-6683.