from left, Daniel Giddings, Cathy Redden, Kim Blake, Fire Chief Shawn Jamieson, Mike Sharpe and Brian Buchanan.
Fund has been sustained over the years by the Trent Hills Fire Department
Car wash and Barbecue Raised more than $7,600
Rotary Club of Campellford Donated $500
Article/image by John Campbell
Trent Hills – Thurs., July 20, 2023 – Having a house burn down and its contents destroyed can leave victims devastated. They’re in no shape to deal with the tragedy on their own in the immediate aftermath.
For more than 30 years the Trent Hills Disaster Relief Fund has been stepping in to give them the help they need right away following a calamitous fire.
The assistance they’re given is “very important,” said Fire Chief Shawn Jamieson, especially when the victims “may not have a lot of money.” The fund will arrange for temporary accommodations to be provided and for clothes and other necessities to be purchased.
The fund has been sustained over the years by the Trent Hills Fire Department, which holds a car wash and barbecue each summer as a fundraiser. This year the firefighter raised more than $7,600 from the event held at the emergency services base in Campbellford.
The number of vehicles washed – 186 – was down slightly from last year but “it was still a good day,” Jamieson said recently, minutes before handing over a cheque to the fund’s co-chairs, Cathy Redden and Kim Blake.
Also on hand to make a donation was Daniel Giddings, with a $500 cheque from the Rotary Club of Campbellford. Mike Sharpe was there as well, representing Sharpe’s Food Market, which has been a big supporter of the fundraiser for decades, providing food, drink and more at no charge.
The fund hasn’t been used to date in 2023 as there hasn’t been any residential structure fires but there have been years when up to 10 families were given assistance after a fire.
“There are some years, knock on wood, that we don’t do anything,” Redden said, and “there are other times that we are quite busy.”
The fund currently stands at more than $50,000.
They “try to keep (a) sufficient” amount on hand in the event there is a major fire in the downtown core,” as happened in 1989, which led to the fund being established.
“Our expenses have increased over the years,” Redden said, as more families are being helped now when “at one point it was a lot of individuals” who were receiving assistance.
“Unfortunately, the majority of the individuals that we deal with don’t really have adequate insurance,” she said, but “the community is really good” at filling the gap in the short term.
“We help them to get through the first two, sometimes three, four nights if necessary,” until family and friends can step in to help.
Blake said they will attend to the victims’ “personal needs” and go shopping for them, as “a lot of people (after a fire) … are very distraught (and) just can’t do it.”
Sharpe said the disaster relief fund is important to Trent Hills and “it’s an easy way for us to give back to the community” by supporting the fire department’s fundraiser.
“It’s always nice to get my car washed once in a while, too,” he added with a smile.
Jamieson said Trent Hills Auto is another supporter, donating soap and brushes for the car wash.