Clothing is sorted at St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
A volunteer goes through donations in the overflow room at St. Peter’s.
A steady stream of people were dropping off donations at the church Wednesday afternoon.
Food is sorted at the church.
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The basement of a local church is currently packed with donations, volunteers and those looking for help.
St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church opened its doors to donations Tuesday afternoon after the amount of support overwhelmed the home of Jessica Sharpe just down the street. It’s partly the result of a Facebook group with more than 4,000 members that came together to help out.
On Tuesday night, the page was abuzz with people asking for help or looking to help.
Connolly Street was jammed with cars as people were dropping off everything from food to cleaning supplies at the church Wednesday afternoon. Inside, the basement was overloaded with goods and volunteers in a mad scramble to help people in need.
John Fletcher had been working at the church since 4 a.m. He said he’s probably seen more than 1,000 people helped so far.
”I see a lot of family and friends that are really in dire need,” he said in a brief break between phone calls and organization efforts.
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Fletcher said watching the effort grow has been like a ball rolling. Most people just need basics like food and water.
“They need the water to boil the food with. They need the water to make the coffee. They need the water to wash and that’s what they’re doing right now,” he said.
Toiletries, hygiene products and things like diapers and baby formula are still needed. Other things like clothing and bedding have been given to the point that people are now being asked to donate those items to the Clothing Assistance Mission on May Street.
Nik Foirito was one of countless people dropping off donations at the church.
He brought cleaning supplies after he saw on Facebook that those were needed items. It was a contribution from him and other employees at the Multicultural Association. Foirito said he had a bit of water in his basement Saturday morning.
“Then I saw how bad these basements were and how it all kind of flows down here (to the East End) so I just felt bad and thought we could help out,” he said.
Foirito was impressed by the volunteer effort at the church.
“It’s just jammed in there. They have mountains of stuff so it’s really cool to see.”
St. Peter’s priest Father Terry Sawchuck said he and church members had just gathered to figure out how to help the neighbourhood when a request came in to use the basement.
“Many of our parishioners live in this neighbourhood many of their neighbours and our neighbours are facing the same challenges. The church is probably one of the only dry basements in the whole East End so I think it was a great opportunity to offer that space,” he said.
“It’s quite humbling to see the outpouring of generosity on behalf of the people in Thunder Bay. It’s good to see the best of humanity even in the midst of trial.”
The city, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army will be co-ordinating efforts with the volunteers.
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