Islanders' generosity shines Sunday, despite nasty weather

Mitch MacDonald, The Guardian
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From left, Mike MacKenzie of Island EMS, sons Jakob and Reilly, and Jamie Locke of the Salvation Army unload an ambulance full of toys, food and other items collected during the Pack the Back fundraiser on Sunday. Despite some adverse weather, the fundraiser went off at Wal-Mart locations in Charlottetown and Summerside. Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

Uncooperative weather couldn't stop a number of Islanders from showing their generosity and support for some of the province's families in need during a fundraiser Sunday.

The Pack the Back fundraiser, which encourages Islanders to fill the backs of ambulances with toys, food and other items for P.E.I. families in need, was still held in both Charlottetown and Summerside despite the winter storm.

While the weather created a small snag and most likely led to fewer donations than usual, Mike MacKenzie of Island EMS said he felt the event went over well.

"The weather today did play a little part of it. We usually come to the locations with a little more food and gifts," he said, while dropping off the donations at the Salvation Army in Charlottetown. "But for what we did collect, I think we did pretty well."

While rural locations in the province were largely shut down from blowing snow, many individuals were able to make it into Charlottetown to donate.

While MacKenzie and two of his sons Jakob and Reilly were at the Charlottetown Wal-Mart, another ambulance with volunteers was situated at the store's Summerside location.

MacKenzie initally started the Pack the Back fundraiser in Nova Scotia. It has been held on P.E.I. for eight years since Island EMS took over the province's ambulance service.

MacKenzie said the initiative also sees friends and colleagues in Newfoundland and New Brunswick participate.

"In a different capacity but they're doing it as well," he said. "It's an event I have close to my heart."

While the event primarily collects items for the Salvation Army, MacKenzie said some individuals also donated dog and cat food to the P.E.I. Humane Society through the event.

"We were able to collect some monetary donations too," said MacKenzie, adding that those were split between the Humane Society and Salvation Army.

MacKenzie said he wanted to thank those who donated to the cause, as well as sponsors Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Island EMS.

 "A good portion of the toys and gifts also came from Wal-Mart," said MacKenzie. "They've been very generous in opening their doors to us."

Organizations: Salvation Army, Wal-Mart, Humane Society Starbucks Tim Hortons

Geographic location: Charlottetown, P.E.I., Summerside Nova Scotia Newfoundland New Brunswick

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