It has been quite a couple of days for us here in the Ottawa area. Some of us have experienced days without power, had damage to their homes or to the homes of those they love, while others have been able to respond, open their homes and their hearts to those in need. It is not an easy situation nor one with which we have great experience, but together we can provide for others as well as be the recipients of kindness and compassion as we plod through the coming days, weeks and even months.
As I mentioned on Sunday, we have been reaching out to church partners (United Church and others), as well as community leaders and organization asking the important question, how can we help? We have received a number of responses, suggestions and possibilities, all of which I would like to share with you. Please know that this will be an ongoing effort, and we will not all be able to engage in all aspects, so I encourage you to find a place that is possible for you. Likewise, there will be those of you who are personally affected either directly or through family and friends. Please let us know how we can help. This will be an evolving response, and we want to hear from you.
This is certainly not an easy time, but we are called into response. We are a strong community, with many resources, and together we can make a difference to those who are struggling. May God bless you, keep you and hold you close as we navigate the physical, emotional and trying times that lay before us.
Reverend Cindy Casey
Immediate Response Opportunities
Clean-Up & Rebuilding:
Do you have a chain saw?
Knox United Church has a team of volunteers who are responding to their neighbours and they need our help! If you have a gas-powered chainsaw and are willing to lend your expertise, they could really use your assistance. If you do not have a chainsaw – no worries there is a place for you. Each individual with a chainsaw would benefit from having 4 volunteers to clear away debris and remove the wood. And if clearing debris or lifting logs isn’t something you are comfortable in doing, the workers could use a steady supply of sandwiches and hot drinks to keep them nourished. This is an immediate opportunity to respond to our neighbours!
Volunteers who are willing to help build or repair (perhaps those of you who have previously volunteered for Habitat for Humanity) or those willing to help with clean-up. Please note: We have gloves, hardhats and protective glasses – you just need to bring your work boots and energy! Let us know your availability and any special tools/skills you may have so we can set up teams.
Kanata Food Cupboard: As always, donations to the Kanata Food cupboard are always appreciated. Additionally, donations of gift cards ($10 – $20 value) to replace perishable items would be very helpful at this time. Both cards and food may be dropped off at here at the church or at the Food Cupboard Warehouse (340 Legget Drive in Kanata) and then we can help refill their cupboard as needed.
This is in addition to our regular Thanksgiving Food Drive that we are currently collecting food for.
Multi-faith Housing Initiative: Many of their tenants have, like many of us, needed to throw away spoiled food. As we know, this food loss hits harder for those who struggle to make ends meet in the first place, and do not necessarily have the resources to have it replaced. As such, the Multifaith Housing Initiative is asking for grocery store gift cards. Gift cards (preferably in $10 and $20 amounts for fair distribution) can be purchased and dropped off to either the Haven office at 435 Via Verona Ave in Nepean, or their main office in Vanier at 404 McArthur Avenue. Alternatively, you can make a contribution online at: by simply selecting their temporary fund “Ottawa Tornado Damage (new)”, and MHI purchase will purchase the gift cards for you.
Long-term Congregational Preparedness
In addition to the many suggestions of immediate response measures, came an idea for future preparedness. The suggestion was to establish a registry of people who have spare rooms which could be made available to those whom the storm (or another emergency situation causing displacement) has rendered homeless. If you have space for this or a potential future situation, please notify the church office as to the amount of space (ie; one bedroom with ensuite; or 2 bedrooms; etc) and the age group you would be most comfortable housing (ie; young family, retired, person with accessibility concerns).
Donate to the Red Cross. The Red Cross is providing emergency support to those most affected by the storm.