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Peace River library finds ways to help NWT wildfire evacuees

Peace River Municipal Library kicked off its annual Wastenot Clothes Swap last week, an event that allows community members to donate lightly-used clothing and school supplies for those in need.
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Anne Pearson, library assistant, and Channing MacDonald, library director, are happy to provide help for NWT evacuees at the library in Peace River, Alta. Photo courtesy of Channing MacDonald.

Peace River Municipal Library kicked off its annual Wastenot Clothes Swap last week, an event that allows community members to donate lightly-used clothing and school supplies for those in need.

With NWT evacuees pouring into the community, the library has been welcoming displaced residents to participate.

”And so this year we received a donation from our local MLA, Dan Williams. He helped us get in touch with a couple of organizations that are sponsoring some backpacks that are full of school supplies. Those are available for anybody in need, whether they are locals or if any evacuees need them, they’re more than welcome to access those resources as well,” said Channing MacDonald, library director.

Over the past couple of weeks, Peace River Municipal Library has hosted its annual Wastenot Clothes Swap, an event that allows community members to donate lightly-used clothing and school supplies for those in need, including displaced NWT residents. Photo courtesy of Channing MacDonald
Over the past couple of weeks, Peace River Municipal Library has hosted its annual Wastenot Clothes Swap, an event that allows community members to donate lightly-used clothing and school supplies for those in need, including displaced NWT residents. Photo courtesy of Channing MacDonald

The event has been extended to two weeks due to its popularity. It will wrap up on Friday, Sept. 1. Afterwards, any leftover materials will be donated to other local groups, such as the Sagitawa Friendship Centre and the women’s shelter.

“(It’s) generosity to hopefully meet the needs of the people that are both coming in from elsewhere and the people who are already here,” said MacDonald.

In addition to providing materials for those in need, the library has also become a popular spot for evacuees looking for a quiet place to work remotely. The facility has set up several public computers and private spaces for those who need them.

The library also offers other amenities such as an art gallery and boardgames that patrons can check out. Staff members said they’ve seen extra goodwill from community members this year, with an increase in donations coming in to help evacuees and local people.

In reference to NWT evacuees, MacDonald said, “First off, I’m so sorry that people are displaced right now. We know that’s really hard, our community has welcomed people here from the North before… We’re just happy to provide service as much as we can to people. So if you’re from elsewhere and you’re worried… just come talk with us and I’m sure that we’ll be able to find a way to provide service because that’s what we’re about. We want to build bridges and provide service to people who need it.”