Shipping container full of donations off to Haiti

Effort by Kamloops Fire Rescue collects about 16,000 kilograms of materials

It'll be an early Christmas for hundreds of Haitian children when they receive contents of a shipping container leaving Kamloops Thursday.

A number of big-hearted individuals and businesses have helped Kamloops Fire Rescue's Operation Haiti collect around 16,000 kilograms of materials, said organizer Ken Baerg.

"We started this back in March and did a silent auction and dinner at the Dunes, a silent auction and dinner and golf tournament at Sun peaks and a hot dog sale at Art Knapp's," said Ken Baerg, an organizer with Operation Haiti for Kamloops Fire and Rescue.

"We have enough money to purchase the container and ship it and a little extra if we need to buy anything down there."

Operation Haiti is a Kamloops Fire Rescue charitable endeavour that began two years ago when locals connected with the Wrays, a former Kamloops family who started a camp for kids in Haiti in 2004.

Firefighters sent its first container to the camp in May 2010, then in 2011 they went to Haiti to offer their labour.

This time around the camp gets both a container, which is expected to arrive in November, and 16 volunteers from Fire Rescue and other parts of the community will travel to Haiti to provide hands-on help in January.

The container's contents include the typical useful items that are hard to find in Haiti such as bicycles, playground equipment, clothing, bedding, dried food, chain link fencing and more.

It also includes items with longer-term visions in mind.

Building material will be used to build a new 200-bed dorm.

Electrical material will eventually turn into solar power, replacing diesel power, and an enthusiastic electrician has volunteered to travel to the camp.

Singer pedal sewing machines will be used to start business for seven individuals.

And life jackets will ensure children can enjoy the canoeing and other water sports at the riverside and ocean side compound.

"Rod and Debbie (Wray) say that most of the kids down there don't know how to swim," said Baerg. "The kids are terrified of the water. So life jackets are going to be great down there."

There's a story behind the way each item came to be in the container, said Baerg.

"We have gotten a lot of donations mostly from businesses in town. You can't start naming them because you'd go on and on forever. We're going to give them a really good thank-you."

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