Community minister says they can see ‘the heartache of the people coming to drop off’ belongings.
Families of some of the 16 seniors killed in a bus crash in western Manitoba are donating their clothing and leftover food to those in need.
“It’s a huge benefit from the loss that has happened to the help that it brings other people,” said Wayne Olson, a community minister for the Church of Christ in Dauphin, Man.
“That’s a tremendously amazing thing, when you think about the big picture of things, how what they have now will help many other people.”
A minibus was carrying a group of seniors from Dauphin and the surrounding area to a casino on June 15 when it went into the path of a semi-trailer truck on the Trans-Canada Highway near the town of Carberry, some 150 kilometres to the south.
The people on the bus were beloved grandparents, mothers, fathers and siblings, Mounties said at a news conference Thursday.
“Hearts are broken, families are grieving, a community is feeling immeasurable loss,” said RCMP Supt. Jeff Asmundson, who is in charge of Manitoba’s west district.
Health officials have said nine others who were on the bus remain in hospital, including the bus driver. Four were in critical condition.
The community held a memorial service Thursday evening, during which 18 candles were lit — 16 for those who died, one for the injured still in hospital and another for first responders who helped at the crash scene.
Also Thursday, food that had filled the victims’ kitchen cupboards and fridges was handed out at the Dauphin food bank, Olson said.
Some food that couldn’t be donated was cooked and served to those in need.
The food bank has been busier than ever in recent years, so donations are often needed, Olson said. The program used to serve 100 people, but now feeds about 180.
In 2003, Olson said, the Church of Christ purchased the building, a former residential school. It was repurposed to help the community with a food bank and a clothing donation centre.
It also has housing and an indoor playground.
In recent days, families of those killed in the crash have stopped by with belongings.
Olson said it’s been very emotional to see “the heartache of the people coming to drop off.”
One man came in with his mother’s clothes.
“That’s not an easy thing to do,” Olson said, “knowing that she won’t ever wear that anymore.”
In the clothing donation area, workers talked about the crash and the family members they have met.
Pants, shirts and sweaters hung on racks throughout a room in the bottom floor of the building. Workers said they were prepared for other donations that may arrive in the coming days or weeks.
Olson said the victims’ families know the donations mean their loved ones can continue to support Dauphin.
He said his heart breaks for the grief brought on by the crash. But it’s important to see how the community continues to support each other — even at the worst of times.
“We can never ever think what we have can’t be used somewhere else,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Dauphin and District Community Foundation started a fund to support seniors in honour of the crash victims. It will provide funding for seniors’ programming, equipment and activities.
“Many people near and far have expressed condolences and words of encouragement to us,” the City of Dauphin said in a social media post about the fund.
“We appreciate you thinking of our community.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Geraldine Malone is a reporter for The Canadian Press.
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