KAMLOOPS - When disaster strikes and people help those in need, there are often a few whose help seems self-serving. As Canadians send donations and offer aid to Fort McMurray evacuees, there can be blowback for businesses who promote their help.
Elly Grabner, 34, of Kamloops is part of the group running the Facebook page Kamloops Pit Stop for Ft. McMurray Evacuees. She's been hearing a lot of complaints through social media the last few days.
“Locals can see when people are leading with business information as opposed to leading with helpful information,” Grabner says.
She says people are pointing to large businesses offering small discounts.
It's not always big business though, she says. An area hotel received complaints when it posted an offer for a special rate for Fort McMurray evacuees on Facebook but didn’t specify the final cost. The hotel ended up removing the post.
Some businesses haven't had any blowback. Kayla Matusiak with Kamloops Ford Lincoln says she’s received nothing but positive messages about the car dealership’s donation plan, while Savannah Smith with the Kamloops Wholesale Furniture Brokers says this is the second time they’ve done a mattress donation deal during a disaster in Alberta and neither time did they receive any complaints.
Smith says certain people will always be cynical.
“Our heart is in the right place,” she says. “There’s always going to be people who are unhappy.”
Grabner says unfortunately it’s not always clear what people’s intentions are. She says one business collecting donations on behalf of the Kamloops Pit Stop group has made a big deal about their efforts, but she hasn’t seen any of those donations come to the pit stop. While she believes the donations are going to the right people, she thinks the business is more concerned about getting people through the front door.
From what she’s seen it’s important businesses are clear about what they are offering and it’s easy for evacuees to understand. She says businesses are getting negative feedback if they advertise a discount or deal that doesn’t affect those evacuating because people assume the business is just doing it for show.
Many businesses are opting to work with the Canadian Red Cross instead of creating their own campaign. Donations are being accepted from Starbucks to B.C. Liquor Stores to local farmers markets.
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