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Countless volunteers, businesses helping Tantallon fire evacuees

As the fire fighters and first responders work around the clock to battle the Tantallon, N.S., area wildfire that’s burning out of control, so too are countless volunteers, non-profits, and businesses.

At the Canada Games Centre, which is serving as Halifax’s evacuation centre, volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross are doing everything necessary to help those staying there after being forced out of their homes. 

“We normally do eight-hour shifts and this is my second shift,” says volunteer Carol Deagle.

“But these shifts often run into 10 hours,” adds fellow volunteer Liz Travis, who travelled in from Wolfville, N.S., to help. “There’s debriefs in the morning, debriefs in the afternoon, debriefs at night,” she says.

They are busy helping evacuees get what they need, with so many now learning the news their homes are gone.

“You do whatever has to be done, you hit the ground running,” says Deagle, “you’re finding housing, you’re finding food, you’re comforting people, finding comfort kits, finding transportation.”

“There’s (evacuees), their nerves are gone,” adds Travis, “a lot of people are sleeping right through the day, they’ve had enough.”

The work of Canadian Red Cross volunteers is just one example of how Nova Scotians have been pitching in to assist ever since the devastating forest fire began Sunday.

On Monday, Tantallon-area business owner Jordan Hipson was inspired to spring into action.

He’s been collecting donations of personal care items and clothing for evacuees at his Over Sea travel office in Tantallon and his Terra Café in Halifax.

“We’ve got soap, baby care items, diapers, even a stroller,” he says.

“We have people that evacuated with last minute’s notice, that maybe don’t have their home any longer, as well as people who didn’t get back to their house before they had to evacuate,” he says.

“We were able package up a bag for a family that is displaced from their home, they left with nothing, they have nothing,” he explains, “we had a community member bring them a whole new bag of clothing.”

Hipson is also gathering donations of food and beverages to take to the White Sails Bakery just ten minutes from his office.

There, a team of community members are organizing those and other food donations in a long assembly line, so evacuees can come by and grab what they need.

The selection includes fresh fruits, bread, snacks, juice beverages, water, and even gluten-free and vegan options for anyone with special dietary concerns.

“We have stuff already pre-made that you can take so you don’t have to cook it, we have stuff that you can take and cook if you have that space,” says owner Lindsay Moussi “You can come and ‘shop’ for what you need,” she adds.

The bakery is also preparing hot meals and delivering them to first responders at the command centre.

“Lindsay’s dad was a 25-year veteran volunteer firefighter,” explains her mother, Lorna Zinck-Gordon, “so firefighters mean a lot to us.”

“And my late granddaughter, Lindsay’s daughter, four-year-old Kennedy, loved firefighters,” she adds.

“We know we know what families go through worrying about those firefighters being in the woods and we truly appreciate them,” she says.

Businesses both large and small are contributing.

Sunday, moving and storage company U-Haul announced it would provide residents impacted by the wildfire with 30-days of free self-storage along with discounted truck rentals.

“We’ve had quite a few people already take us up on the that offer,” says Devin Mitchell, U-Haul

“Its people getting their hands on whatever they could when they were fleeing, precious household items, sentimental items especially,” he says.

“But then they have nowhere to go, so they’re largely trying to get (those items) into someplace for as long as possible,” Mitchell adds. 

“Everyone is really rallying together to try together to try to help everyone out there,” says the co-owner of Sportwheels Sports-Excellence.

Jeff Mayhew and his families are evacuees themselves, now staying with friends. So far, he says, his home is still intact.

Even while being displaced, Sportwheels is now collecting gently used athletic equipment for affected families and sports associations like Hammonds Plains Baseball.

“I can only imagine what families are going through that have already lost homes or garages,” he says, “so we’re just trying to give kids normalcy through all this chaos right now.”

“Just drive up to the store and drop off any gently used gear that you have,” he says, “it seems there’s a lot of networking going on in those (affected) communities for gear drives,” he says, “so we have high hopes that there’s going to be a lot of volume.”

As the co-owner of a social enterprise, Mayhew says he’s also using Sportwheels’ social media channels to amplify fundraisers for any other affected athletic organizations.

“I’ve always felt our role in the community is to keep families active,” he says, “so if we can do that, that’s what we’re going to do.”

For anyone wondering what they can do, Deagle says the Canadian Red Cross needs volunteers now more than ever.

The organization has also launched a national fundraising appeal.

The Nova Scotia & Atlantic Canada Fires appeal will support those most impacted by wildfires throughout the region, with donations taken online at, or by calling 1-800-418-1111.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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