Kenya Thompson was inspired to give back to her community after the Dilworth Mountain fire and after seeing her mother help with evacuation efforts in West Kelowna. (Contributed/Kenya Thompson)

Kelowna woman offers free food, supplies to wildfire evacuees

Kenya Thompson posted on Twitter offering to cook for families who have evacuated

With wildfires in the province displacing people from their homes, a local Kelowna woman is offering free food and essentials to evacuees in the city.

Kenya Thompson is a student at Carleton University who moved back home to Kelowna during the pandemic for online distance learning. She was inspired to give back to her community after the Dilworth Mountain fire, which was a scary experience for her. Her mother also works for a long-term care home in West Kelowna and was helping with evacuation efforts in the area. So, Thompson decided to help evacuees with resources she had at home.

“I have a car. I have chickens out back that make a lot of eggs. I have food, so there has to be something I can do,” said Thompson.

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Thompson said she reached out to the Emergency Support Services (ESS) reception centre at 1480 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna to inquire how she can help. She was put on a list of people who can help provide essential goods, but that was not going anywhere. She tried to post on various Facebook groups, but the website kept flagging her posts for spam, so she decided to post on Twitter instead.

“I had the willingness to give what I have, especially when I see people trying to help online in small ways,” said Thompson. “I just want to give back in any way that I could.”

So far, Thompson hasn’t had anyone take up her offer for free food, but she will continue to offer help before she has to leave for school. The last thing an evacuee wants to worry about is whether or not they can afford food on top of all the hotel and accommodation fees they have to pay.

“A lot of people are coming to Kelowna, so it’s just nice not to have to pay for food and just have someone who is willing to offer it,” Thompson said.

“There are people in the community that care. Don’t be afraid to reach out,” she added.

Thompson also has some stern words to say about the provincial leadership or the perceived lack thereof. People are looking for a strong leader who is willing to vocalize that communities are here to help, but she said the Premier and his cabinet have not done a good job.

“It’s disappointing that the provincial government aren’t being visible when a lot of people in the Okanagan valley are struggling,” she said.

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B.C. Wildfires 2021City of Kelowna