It may seem too early to start thinking about Christmas, but not for volunteers at Project: Christmas Hope for High River. Anyone who has witnessed the devastation and ruin in High River during and after the flooding this June know the scope of loss residents have and continue to experience although it is hard to fully understand the shock and trauma that they are still living with when we do not see it every day.
Created by a couple in High River who volunteered to muck out some neighbors homes in the weeks following the flooding, this unique project was born out of the realization that 80% of the houses in High River were flooded. The disaster caused extensive damage to basements, meaning everything housed in these parts of the homes had to be thrown out.
Among the many items that are commonly found in basements are Christmas decorations, and when Heather Meszaros witnessed a fellow volunteer attempt to save a families Christmas ornaments weeks after the flooding, she realized something would have to be done to help these victims find a reason to celebrate this Christmas season. This is why she and her husband David started the unique campaign.
By way of a facebook page, the couple put out a call for donated Christmas decorations, and in typical fashion of Canadians, word spread and donations started pouring in from all across Canada.
Laura Brankovich, a Town of Chestermere employee brought the idea to the Town of Chestermere after seeing the overwhelming amount of support that came from our residents in the weeks following the devastating floods.
“Chestermere residents really went over and beyond with helping communities affected by the floods” says Brankovich, who lives in High River and saw firsthand the incredible response offered by Chestermere people. “In the first few weeks, when there was so much hopelessness and despair, I just felt better knowing that members of Chestermere’s Public Works Department were in High River, taking action and helping out; it really was unbelievable.”
In addition to man hours, some residents of Chestmere found other creative ways of helping; by raising funds at the Summer Water festival and the Salsa on the Lake Event. Money raised from these local measures went directly to Alberta Flood Relief Efforts. “Chestermere has amazing heart and wonderful people.” states one persons comment on the projects’ facebook page, referring to the support many of our heroic residents continue to offer to High River and other area hit by this tragedy.
The Town of Chestermere has agreed to use the Town Hall as a drop-off point for Chestermere residents to make donations to the fundraiser, and then donations from there will be transported to High River on October. 21.
On October 25-26, the High River First Alliance Church will act as the donation centre, and residents directly affected by the floods can go and choose from all the donated material which will surely help to make their holidays a little bit brighter this year.
Brankovich is also helping to organize a craft table that will be set up in the Donation Centre on October 26, providing families the opportunity to create new memories by participating in an ornament making workshop.
The Town of Chestermere will be open and accepting donations up until October 21 during regular business hours. The table for drop-off is easy to find, it is located right in the main foyer of Town Hall.
For more information on Project Christmas Hope for High River, visit http://www.facebook.com/projectchristmashope”