Families of some of the 16 seniors killed in a bus accident in western Manitoba are donating their clothing and leftover food to those in need.
“It’s a huge benefit of the loss that’s happened with the help it brings to other people,” says Wayne Olson, a Church of Christ pastor in Dauphin, Man.
“That’s tremendously amazing, when you think about the grand scheme of things, how what they have now will help a lot of other people.”
A minivan was carrying a group of senior citizens from the Dauphin area to a casino on June 15 when it drove into the path of a semi-trailer truck on the Trans-Canada Highway near the town of Carberry, some 90 miles 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 mourning, a community is feeling immeasurable loss,” said RCMP Supt. Jeff Asmundson, who is in charge of Manitoba’s Western District.
Health officials have said nine others who were on the bus are still in hospital, including the bus driver. Four were in critical condition.
The community held a memorial service Thursday night, lighting 18 candles — 16 for those who died, one for those injured still in hospital and one for first responders who helped at the scene of the accident.
Also Thursday, food that had filled the victims’ kitchen cabinets and refrigerators was distributed at the Dauphin food bank, Olson said.
Some food that could not 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 bought the building, a former residential school. It was repurposed to help the community with a food bank and clothing donation center.
It also has residences and an indoor playground.
In recent days, families of the victims of the crash have come by with belongings.
Olson said it was very emotional to see “the heartache of the people who are coming to drop off”.
A man came in with his mother’s clothes.
“That’s not easy,” Olson said, “knowing she’ll never wear that again.”
In the clothing drop-off area, employees talked about the crash and the relatives they met.
Pants, shirts, and sweaters hung on racks in a room on the ground floor of the building. Workers said they were prepared for other donations that could 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 is breaking because of the grief caused by the crash. But it’s important to see how the community continues to support each other even in the worst of times.
“We can never think that what we have can’t be used elsewhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Dauphin and District Community Foundation has set up a fund to support senior citizens in honor of the victims of the accident. It will provide funding for senior citizen programming, equipment and activities.
“Many people from near and far have sent their condolences and words of encouragement,” the city of Dauphin said in a social media post about the fund.
“We appreciate you thinking of our community.”