The wildfires that have impacted Fort McMurray are surreal. This event has impacted all Albertans and already many are stepping forward and asking “What can I do to help?”.
I was not surprised to already see a handful of posts about benefit shows and other fundraising events being organized by our music community. I’ve also gotten a couple of e-mail suggesting we get some bands together and put on a show to help Fort McMurray. Now while all these efforts are commendable and I know are being planned with the best intentions and a lot of heart, I would like to suggest taking some time before making announcements or posting about events online.
What is happening in Fort McMurray is STILL happening. Meteorologist are saying the weather not changing and so there is a chance things will continue/resume today. Already I am hearing messages on the radio telling the Fort McMurray residents who went back to survey the damage to once again leave. It will be a couple days, even weeks before we know what the full extent of the damage is, how people will be impacted the most.
Yes, the will be a time where putting on benefit shows and other fundraising event will be helpful and needed, but lets take some time and respect what is happening in Fort McMurray right now.
A long with that, lets take some time to think of how exactly we can help. I remember similar things happening after Slave Lake and the floods in High River. Within days of those events I was seeing all sorts of announcements about benefit shows, most of which ended up not happening. Stuff that did happen got lost in the mix of everything else people were doing to try and help and in the end, in some situations an overwhelming amount of stuff not needed was accumulated.
If you want to organize a benefit show, before announcing it find out what is needed, who you can partner with to ensure what you raise ends up going to the people you intended it to go to. We will have more of an impact and be able to help a lot more if we focus our efforts and do so in a timely manner.
Now before anyone flies off the handle and tells me this is the wrong way to look at things, that we should be helping now. That’s fine, help is help whether we give it now or later, it will be needed. Like I said, I know everyone who is stepping up and wanting to do something is doing so with the best intensions and in the spirit of helping our fellow Albertans. In the end any effort we make will be helpful in one way or another. I doubt any of us have experienced or witnessed anything like this before and so our instinct is to react. There’s nothing wrong with reacting, but I’m sure we can all agree ideally however we react we will want to do what we can to help in the best way we can. All I’m suggesting is instead of saying “Here’s what we are doing” first ask “What can we do to help?” and start putting together a plan from there.
If you want to help right now, the best way to do it is simply by texting RED CROSS to 30333. Doing that will donate $5 to the Red Cross. Sadly there are already scam donation sites popping up. To make sure your donations are going to the right place to provide support, follow the guidelines outlined here.