A fundraising effort for people displaced by the March 15 fire at the Mackenzie Place highrise has basically wrapped up with a total of $9,400 having been collected.
Rev. Francis Delaplain of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church said people can still contribute to a GoFundMe page or drop off donations.
“It does seem to have subsided, the fundraising effort,” he said. “At this point, what we’re working towards is just the distribution of funds.”
Delaplain, who agreed to accept the proceeds of several fundraising efforts for distribution, said the money came from three main sources – a GoFundMe page on the Internet, donations at the church, and a dance and auction at the Royal Canadian Legion.
The dance and auction in April raised $5,700.
As of May 19, the GoFundMe page total stood at $1,920, a figure that had not changed in over a month. The goal was $25,000.
After fees, Delaplain noted the GoFundMe site will contribute over $1,800 to the initiative.
Donations that came into the church included a $2,000 cheque from an office group.
Delaplain is now in contact with the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority for a working list of who was displaced from the highrise.
“Once I have solid numbers, we will distribute the money and we’ll figure out the best way to do that,” he said, adding he is also in contact with the Town of Hay River.
An estimated 125 people were displaced by the fire, and have not returned to the damaged highrise, which remains unoccupied.
“I think right now the best thing is to just put the money in the hands of the people who were displaced and probably let them make decisions of what they need,” said Delaplain.
“I hope it’s able to impact people, give them some help, whether that’s with groceries or getting some furniture or whatever it is,” he added.
Delaplain is pleased with the fundraising effort.
“I’m pleased whenever people take time and give money to other people. That’s good,” he said. “Will it make a difference? I think so.”
Delaplain noted there were challenges in the fundraising effort, especially for the GoFundMe page.
“Fundraising is a tricky thing, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “That particular effort didn’t seem to work, and maybe that did work. Maybe $2,000 was all anyone was going to get. So maybe that’s a success. It’s really hard to quantify why a fundraising effort didn’t work.”
Delaplain said that one particular challenge is that potential donors don’t know what is exactly needed by the displaced people, especially since it is unknown what’s going to happen to the highrise.
“And I think that is one thing I do know about fundraisers,” he said. “They can’t be ambiguous. We need to know why we’re fundraising.”
Delaplain noted community residents gave a lot in response to the fire, pointing out that truckloads of clothing and other items were donated to Georgina’s Place thrift shop, which is operated by St. Andrew’s Anglican Church.