As I write this, forest fires are again raging, 155 right now in British Columbia, Canada's westernmost province. It shares a border with the state of Washington, in the USA. Fires are also now crossing into Alberta, province of my birth, where the bulk of our family lives. This year the fires are mid-province, right now in Kootenay National Park, west of Calgary. Last year they were in northern Alberta, forcing one of the largest evacuations in Canadian history, the entire city of Fort McMurray, approximately 88 000 people. Many people returned to find nothing left; many people have not returned and do not plan to. This link takes you to a timeline of the events.
My husband and I spent many years camping throughout Alberta, and also a little bit in BC. Before we were married, after we got married, and after we had our girls, we camped. We have many wonderful memories of those days. I remember driving on highways to get to a lake through blackened landscapes after a fire had been through. It was pretty sobering. Charred trees, perhaps some green fronds of fireweed bravely poking their spikes through the ash and blackened earth are imprinted on my mind. The smell. Seeing the sun through a shimmer, not of heat haze, but of high smoke and ash, also comes to mind. Touching tiny white powdery ash on our patio table in our back yard, cinders from fires hundreds of miles away.
I remember seeing on TV the images from people's cell phones of driving on the highway out of Fort McMurray, last May, the massive wall of flames right there, like right along the roads, scenes from a movie one would think. But they weren't. Our daughter, Brianne, wanting to help, like so many many Albertans, bought a bunch of necessities to take to one of the centres. The manager of the drugstore, seeing what she was doing, added a whole bunch of stuff, filling Brianne's trunk. She made the two-hour drive up to the centre, where she unloaded, seeing firsthand many families who had fled from their homes, some staying in campgrounds, others in people's yards in their campers, still others in residents' homes. The outpouring of support and help made such an impression on us, and we were hearing it secondhand; I can't imagine the depth of that feeling seeing it in person. She went back to help a second time too.
Goodness and kindness come to the fore when there are tragedies, and people feel so helpless. People want to help in any way they can. Sometimes they ask, "What can I do?" Sometimes they want hurting people to tell them what they need. But sometimes the hurting people don't know...yet the knowledge that another human, maybe another loved one, maybe a stranger, wants to reach out and try to lessen your pain and grief, means so so much. Michele reached out, unaware of my recent sorrow...
|Remember her quilt from my last post? It is done! Don't you love the border she added? This small act of reaching out has lifted my spirits so much this past week.
Sometimes you don't know what you need until later. This is the case with the quilt story that follows. It made me cry. Tears of empathy and sadness, but tears of profound 'wow' joy.
Who came rushing to help this particular Fort Mac quilter? None other than Craftsy. Yeah. So finding this out has reaffirmed my approval for this company for whom I am an affiliate. That is an affiliate link. However, I'm not here to tell you about sales, or class deals this time; I'm here to tell you of the truly wonderful act this company did for a young Fort McMurray, Alberta quilter named Eldora.
Eldora's home was one of approximately 2400 homes and buildings destroyed. She writes of rushing home from work, having minutes to grab personal possessions before being evacuated from her home, of being one of the lucky ones with family in southern Alberta where her family could stay. So many stayed in shelters, or camped, or stayed with strangers. When she found out the terrible news that her home had burned and they'd lost everything, she knew in her heart that material possessions could be replaced. Yet she'd lost her sewing machine, all her sewing supplies, her quilts... my quilts are like little parts of me; I can't imagine losing them. She eventually realized that she needed, no she yearned for her quilting to help her heal and get through this terrible time. She had recently bought a bunch of fabric and supplies from Craftsy, and so she talked to them, specifically an employee named Lizzy, using the online chat, explaining her predicament and asking if they would consider selling her the items she'd previously purchased, at cost, so she could start sewing again. Well. Grab some Kleenex.
Eldora and her family returned to Fort McMurray sometime in June. Shortly thereafter, she received a few care packages from Craftsy. And...from Janome. Yep. Craftsy did a truly amazing thing: they sent her a ton of quilting supplies, from rotary cutter to thread to a couple of quilt kits! AND they talked to Janome, who sent her a top of the line MC 8200 sewing machine so she could start doing the thing that we all know heals ourselves and heals those we care about: quilting. Just typing this up brings tears to my eyes all over again. Such thoughtfulness on the part of Craftsy worker Lizzy. Such support from the company, and taking it further by talking to Janome, who also came through in spades. A Denver, Colorado company reaching out, across an international border, to help a little old Canuck. Eldora says, as she is sewing up one of the kits on her new machine, "The Beast" tried to take everything from her, but it couldn't take away her love of quilting.
|Cows quilt, first row. Cows aren't talking much... yet... I've decided I'm not going to echo the Churn Dash, aka Hole in the Barn Door blocks, just SID (stitch in the ditch).
Update: A kind person emailed me wanting to know if I had any ideas as to how she could get her 'ton' of stuff, and how her guild, the Cochrane Quilt Guild, could help for Fort McMurray. I thought that there might still be a need, a year later, and did some research. For Fort McMurray, I found this article on Global News' website. I found it comforting to know that a separate Fort McMurray fund within the Canadian Red Cross is in place and that so far they have used 75% of the funds.
I also found this website: Alberta Wildfire Donation Centre that explains that donations are no longer being accepted for Fort McMurray.
If anyone else wants to help with the current fires, the best bet is The Canadian Red Cross. That link will take you directly to a site to donate. Here is a current article from Global News on how you can help. I am so pleased to see the Salvation Army, an organization I highly recommended to the person who emailed me, as one of the leading charitable organizations.
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication