Know the Uglier Side to the Fort McMurray fires

firefighter-848346_960_720.jpgFort McMurray forest fires that have forced evacuations for over 88,000 residents and have affected over 100 000 hectares. The sheer numbers associated with this disaster are astounding, but fires are no new issue in Alberta.  There have been very few casualties associated with the evacuation from Fort McMurray, which is rare for an evacuation of this magnitude.  Normally, mass panic would spread in a population, especially in one such as Fort McMurray with one road, Highway 63, as the only route out of town.  Canada as a country has stepped up in donations and volunteer effort.  There have also been several stories of people and local businesses strapping up their vehicles with gas to fuel the evacuees on their trek out of the flaming town. I feel proud to call myself Canadian after seeing these interactions.

The Red Cross is recommending donations in cash over physical item donations.  The benevolent intentions of donators by gathering clothes, cots, blankets, food, water, and other goods sometimes do not have the effects that they seek.  Many of these items must be shipped and warehoused before reaching the evacuees, many of which will not have a place to store the goods.  Human empathy is normally an emotional response, resulting in individualized notions of contributions, be it money, emotional support, or other forms of aid.

I have also noticed many organizations staking their support for the fire relief effort, including many promises stated online.  While I applaud the organizations wanting to do their part, the ugly side of any publicized donation campaign is the opportunity to take advantage of the situation.  Some call it smart marketing, or staying in tune with your audience, and if the process is honorable, I do not see a problem. However, companies can use this to their advantage in a variety of ways, from piggybacking on the popularity of the current events, to devious claims asking for donations.  The federal government has already declared that they will match individual donations to the Red Cross, which should give you enough reason to just donate to the Red Cross.

I realize that donations are often a quick and instinctive process, but please take care in donating through legitimate sites and companies.  There are several ineffective campaigns out there, like Vitamart’s campaign to donate $50 through a purchase on their website. Why not just go straight to the Red Cross?

My point is simple.  Put some research into where your donated money is headed.  The Red Cross donations are mostly being put to the evacuees, which is good to hear.


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