Fort McMurray Wildfires
(Completed Project – 2017)
Wildfires spread across Fort McMurray, 741,550 hectares, resulting in two fatalities, damaging 2,400 homes and buildings and forcing almost 90,000 residents to evacuate for safety.
As soon as the news broke, GAiN wanted to get involved and help demonstrate the love of God to the people of Fort McMurray to provide aid, emotional and spiritual care. GAiN partnered with a local church, McMurray Gospel Assembly to bring hope to the community after the fires had done not only physical damage to the area, but also emotional trauma to the people.
When residents were given the go-ahead to return home, they knew their lives would not be the same.
“Childcare was a struggle for most families as parents financially needed to return to work but daycares and summer programs were struggling to reopen,” explained Pastor Natasha Carpenter, the assistant pastor of children and family ministries at McMurray Gospel Assembly (MGA).
With GAiN’s help, MGA put together a children’s summer camp for seven weeks, hosting over 140 children (70 kids in attendance per week) ages six to 11, and 12-16-year-olds in a junior mentorship program.
Following a traumatic spring, children were able to come to a safe environment where they could make new friends, have fun, learn new things and work through the emotions they had experienced surrounding the fire and evacuation.
Each week had a specific theme, planned by the team. One week, the theme was food and children got to learn from an instructor how to make their own personal pizzas.
Camp wrapped up with Vacation Bible School, open to all who had attended the camp in the last seven weeks. Not only kids, but many families also joined and had the chance to hear the gospel. As a result, several of those families have started to regularly attend the church’s Sunday services.
“Our focus was to give the children a fun summer, and to work through some of the emotions they had, and are experiencing due to the fire and evacuation. We thank God for the great relationships that were built and for these precious kids.”