Alberta Oil Sands

the tailings are toxic, but the people are generous.

Alberta may get a well deserved bad rap for the extreme environmental consequences of the oil sands and tailing ponds, but it’s important to recognize that, like anywhere, most of the people who call Fort McMurray home aren’t all that bad…

Local giving tops in Canada again

Today staff
Thursday May 08, 2008

Fort McMurray has once again been named Canada’s most generous community, topping the United Way of Canada’s list of cities on a per capita basis during the 2007 United Way campaign.

In Fort McMurray, residents contributed $58.62 per capita to the United Way, a 25 per cent increase from 2006. During that campaign, local citizens gave just under $4 million.

Calgary trailed Fort McMurray with $46.28 per capita raised, followed by Toronto at $43.18 and Ottawa at $38.55. The city of Estevan, Sask., rounded out the top five with $28.51 raised per capita.

United Way executive Rod McDonald is pleased with the news.

“We really pulled away from the pack this year with our 25 per cent rise from 2006, which I think is just unheard of,” McDonald said during an interview. “I’m proud of our citizens who care so much about the social fabric of our community… We’ve certainly built up a sizeable lead between first and second.”

In the past, according to McDonald, Fort McMurray often closely trailed larger centers like Calgary and Toronto on the annual list. But in 2005 the community placed first, though the numbers were close.

But the good news is certainly welcome to more than those at the United Way office: the organization funds 24 social and health services agencies in Fort McMurray directly, according to its website.

Maj. David Bray and his wife Elaine have been working for the Salvation Army in Fort McMurray for almost five years. The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter, just one part of the operations Bray and his wife oversee in the community, received $250,000 from the UWFM in 2007. And for 2008, Bray said he would be surprised if the same or a slightly higher amount isn’t offered.

Bray said the UWFM money is “fundamental in funding our Community Response Unit and the Family Services Department.”

As of last Monday, for example, the Army’s Community Response Unit is serving meals in the evening to the homeless population in Fort McMurray previously taken care of by the Mat program.

Bray said the United Way’s first-place standing for money raised in Canada “makes you feel good and excited because Fort McMurray is a great place, and the residents and companies out here of course have an interest in helping the more vulnerable in our midst.

“To see them come through for our United Way campaign is just fantastic,” he said.
Gayle Phillips, executive director of the Fort McMurray Boys and Girls Club, also said the news is very positive.

“It shows that Fort McMurray has very caring and giving people… It puts Fort McMurray on the map.”

“It’s one of those good news stories people say they never hear,” McDonald said. “The spirit of giving is alive and well in Fort McMurray, and here’s the proof.”

(h/t to BR for the story)

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