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Unity resident's intention blossoms into significant B.C. relief effort

Unity woman's initiative to help inspires a community to respond to B.C. relief efforts

UNITY — Lindsay Soderholm has family in Chilliwack, B.C. Seeing their pictures of surrounding devastation from recent B.C. floods and empty store shelves had her put a call out on social media for donations to help her family and others in that area.

In the fashion Unity residents have come to know and appreciate, dozens of people along with businesses and the local Legion stepped in to help. Drop-off boxes and places were offered, volunteers stepped in to help collect, sort and load the trailers as well as longtime community volunteer, Terry Smith, offered not only a trailer but would drive the loaded goods to a drop-off point to be flown into areas otherwise unreachable by road and rail.

“I have been doing volunteer and humanitarian work since I became ill with a rare kidney disease in 2012. I just love helping people in any way I can. And when I was no longer able to work volunteering was the next best option,” Soderholm says.

Soderholm says it was a natural instinct to step up to help when her mom told her of the struggle families were having and she encouraged her daughter to do whatever she could. Within minutes of her post, a business offered a drop-off place while adding a meal deal that would donate money back towards this relief fund. She contacted a couple of other businesses who also quickly agreed to donation boxes. Tape, marking pens and other packing supplies were also donated.

Additionally, the Unity Red Apple, often recognized for their community outreach, contacted the neighbouring Biggar location for the Unity team to set up a collection spot there. As well, they offered the option for donors to purchase a gift card and staff at the store would shop for the collection boxes for them.

After getting the first set of donation boxes ready to go, it was realized mailing was not going to be an option and that’s when Smith stepped up to offer his enclosed trailer and truck for loading to deliver to the drop-off destination.

Several other travel complications came about, so Soderholm contacted the Salvation Army in Chilliwack who advised her of a helicopter option. She spent much time on the phone lining up collection stations and ensuring there would be a viable place to drop off to ensure it would arrive at this B.C. destination.

“So many amazing people on both ends of this outreach project,” Says Soderholm. “I only hope that this little bit of kindness can help bring them a little peace and comfort.

These Unity and area collections will be distributed to lower income families who were unable to make it to stores before they were cleaned out or to afford anything extra to have for their days ahead.

“What inspired me to do this is knowing one simple act of kindness can change someone’s world.”

The trailer will be loaded with all of the collections the week of Nov. 29, then driven to its drop-off destination.

 “It’s absolutely heartwarming to see how this community rallied and open their hearts to our cousins in the west," Soderholm adds,

"I’m very proud to live in Unity, Saskatchewan and call this my home. I couldn’t have done any of this without the help of friends and volunteers who have been picking up donations, helping organize, make phone calls and pack up the collections. As well, a big shout out to Mr. and Mrs. Smith for ensuring these donations get to those who need it.”