In the shadow of a giant, upended poplar tree, covered in sawdust and clad in safety gear, a group of orange-shirted volunteers laboured in Kensington, Friday afternoon.
They worked with chainsaws to break down the ancient organism and either fed the remains into a wood-chipper or used a loader to pick up larger chunks and deposit them in a neat pile.
For many of that group, their work was an expression of their faith, whether it be in Jesus or humanity – or both.
Samaritan’s Purse Canada was emblazoned on their shirts.
Among them was Summerside resident Richard Bosede, who had heard to the group was working in Kensington to help with hurricane Dorian clean-up and wanted to help them out.
Taking a break from hefting logs into the chipper, Bosede said he’s happy to do it.
“The government cannot take care of everybody, it’s a huge mess. So, in a little way we can contribute back to humanity,” he said.
“I cannot reach people in millions. But my little hard work here can go a long way, I can impact somebody at least,” he said.
“I’m contributing my quota to humanity in my own little way.”
Samaritan’s Purse is an evangelical Christian disaster relief organization that has operated around the world since its founding in the 1970s.
The Canadian branch of the non-governmental organization is based in Calgary, but the 10 volunteers on the ground here are from all over the country.
The program manager for the group here on P.E.I. is Andy Northup, he hails from Nova Scotia and has responded to disaster areas all over the world.
Northup was working Thursday at the group’s basecamp at the Summerside Community Church, 150 Industrial Crescent in Summerside. Samaritan’s Purse rolled into Summerside with a tractor-trailer office/supply hub, mobile sleeping quarters, vehicles and the infrastructure needed to support their efforts.
Northup said the organization uses assessment teams to decide if their efforts are needed in any given disaster area and P.E.I., the Kensington area specially, fit the bill after hurricane Dorian blew through on Sept. 7.
“We could see there was a lot of damage, a lot of trees down. So, we decided we needed to come here and help people,” said Northup.
He explained that Samaritan’s Purse tries to help in any way they are needed most in any given disaster zone. Here that mostly means helping with flooded basements and removing fallen trees. There is no fee for their service.
Their focus is working with people that are uninsured, underinsured, the elderly and single parents. They actively try not to compete with local business so they try to stick with helping folks who otherwise would not be able to afford help or who are otherwise not in a position to ask for it.
As word of their presence started to spread, their list of people in need quickly shot up to 40 and was likely to grow significantly, said Northup.
He estimates Samaritan’s Purse will be operating in the Summerside area for at least the next month. Eventually they will have to stop accepting names to add to their list, but those who are on it can expect the help. The number to call to request help is 1-844-547-2663.
Anyone on P.E.I. who would like to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse can show up at the Summerside Community Church Basecamp before 7:30 a.m. No prior experience is required and safety gear is provided.
Northup added that even though Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization, there is no faith-based requirements for anyone who wants to volunteer or who would like to request help.
All they care about, said Northup, is bringing some comfort to as many people who need it as they can for as long as they can.