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Okanagan communities coming together to help neighbours in need


Volunteers and local organizations in B.C.’s Okanagan region are stepping up to support in any way they can.

"I just want people to know that my place is available. I'm up on Irish Creek," said local resident Silvia Duarte, who is one of many in the area offering their space to help evacuees.

"Two years ago, we had a fire in the back here, so I get it," she continued.

She and many others have been on evacuation alert before and understand the importance of community help.

"It's just awful. I know how terrified those people will be," said Miranda Williams, who is also offering her space to support those impacted by the McDougall Creek wildfire.

The blaze in West Kelowna exploded in size Thursday, triggering evacuation orders for thousands of properties and evacuation alerts for thousands more. An unknown number of homes have been destroyed by the fire.

She's appreciative of the help she received a few years ago and wants to do the same for others.

"It just keeps the community spirit up and keeps everybody together," she said.

Mamas 4 Mamas, a national charitable organization that supports mothers and caregivers in crisis, has helped thousands of evacuees already.

"Wherever the mamas are, we're going to meet them there. We have amazing donations that are coming in that we want to get into the hands of people who need it right away," said Shannon Christensen, the organization's founder and national director.

The group is distributing food, water, new clothing and gift cards to evacuees as well as raising funds.

"But there will likely be more needed once we get more families re-established. Right now, it's just a matter of crisis relief and getting them into shelter," said Christensen.

She said some members are helping out, despite being under evacuation alert themselves.

"In all of this, we're seeing the best is coming out of people. We're seeing their heart shine through. We're seeing them step up for their neighbours," she said.

Farmers are also helping feed those out of their homes.

Little Shack Farm gave out free produce on Saturday and is donating half of all purchased food to Mamas 4 Mamas.

"We want to give it to them. Lots of ‘thank yous.’ And it really just feels like the least we can do. We have food. We're so happy to be able to feed people," said farmer Rebecca Shack. Top Stories

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