With its long-running thrift store, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church is known in Hay River as a place that helps the needy in the community.
And that thrift store was one of the main reasons that people looked to Rev. Francis Delaplain of St. Andrew’s to help handle monetary donations for the approximately 125 people displaced by the March 15 fire at the Mackenzie Place highrise.
Delaplain said someone had asked if St. Andrew’s was going to be involved in managing the financial donations.
“And I said we’d be willing to help out with that,” he recalled responding.
Then Mark Lundbek, the manager of community radio station CKHR, created a GoFundMe page for the displaced people and also approached the minister.
“So he contacted me and said, ‘Would you manage the distribution of the funds,'” Delaplain said.
Plus, the organizers of a fundraising dance at the Royal Canadian Legion on April 5 also contacted him about managing the money that event raised.
“And we will do that,” said Delaplain, explaining any decisions on the money will be made in consultation with the Town of Hay River and the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.
“I think there will be a bit of a committee set up to determine how we give the money out just because you want to manage people’s money properly,” he said. “And I think you also want to have the greatest impact on the need. I wouldn’t be comfortable making those decisions alone.”
Delaplain believes he and St. Andrew’s Anglican Church became involved in the collection of financial donations because of its thrift store, which is called Georgina’s Place.
The thrift store became a focus for donations of a wide variety of items, especially clothes, in the aftermath of the fire.
“Right away, we realized that was something that as a thrift store we were equipped to help with,” said Delaplain.
The involvement in the collection of money is an extension of that.
Delaplain said that drop boxes may be set up at several businesses around town for people to make donations.
The minister doesn’t have a goal of how much he would like to see raised.
“I think the need isn’t yet known, either,” he said. “How big is this need going to be? I think we’re all still kind of waiting to hear what’s going to happen, where are people going to live, who’s going to help them get in there, how much furniture is going to be needed?”
Delaplain could not say when any collected money will be distributed to the displaced people.
“I think the community will be very generous,” he said.
Georgina’s Place Thrift Store is still collecting items for the displaced people, although it appears the need for clothing and personal items has slowed considerably.
“The next piece that we’re working on now is furniture,” said Delaplain. “So I’ve found us some additional storage, because that’s one of our hesitancies in saying bring furniture is where do you put a bunch of furniture? But we have found some places.”