Generosity making a difference

There are a number of distribution centres in our community, helping with the disbursement of donated goods being managed by ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency). Millions of items are being stored in a large warehouse in Edmonton and shipped to the community on an as-needed basis.

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One such location is NOSTCO in the Northlife Fellowship Baptist Church, a distribution centre that has been particularly busy as families living in the downtown core drop in to get necessary supplies.


Rachel Ondang, Director of NOSTCO

Rachel Ondang is the Director of NOSTCO. While she gets the assistance of other volunteers who pop in and out for several hours a week, Rachel has had very little time to do anything but keep the doors open and supplies stocked, often working far beyond her 8 hours.

“I had been trying to connect with somebody from this distribution centre for a while now,” said Beth McLaws, Fire Recovery Projects Coordinator with United Way. “I wanted to let them know about support we could offer through our Fire Recovery Program.”

Last week, she finally connected with Rachel by visiting her in person in the basement of Northlife Fellowship Baptist Church.

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Mary Lou Ross is one of the volunteers at NOSTCO

“It is a well organized space,” said Beth. “Rachel has done an amazing job with the set-up and making sure that donated goods make it into the hands of people who need them. Operating the distribution centre largely on her own, it was perfectly clear to me that she needed help.”

Beth worked with Rachel to put an application for funding support together; Rachel didn’t have the capacity to put the application together on her own; the centre is just too busy.

Late last week, Beth hand delivered a cheque to the organization that will allow them to hire a full-time staff person for four months to lighten the load on Rachel who has gone above and beyond to help families in desperate need.

“As soon as I walked in and Rachel saw me with the cheque, she dropped herself into a big easy chair sitting in the hallway,” said Beth. “The look on her face was one of total relief. Tears and hugs followed shortly after.”

Help through the United Way’s Fire Recovery Fund is made possible through the generosity of Albertans and Canadians. Over $3.25 million has been pledged with the United for Fort McMurray campaign and the Fire Aid for Fort McMurray concert in Edmonton.

“It was the high point of the week for me,” said Beth. “It was such an honour to deliver a cheque that will make a guaranteed impact.”


Author: Russell Thomas

​Russell is a marketing and communications professional who has spent 20 years in Wood Buffalo working with the OK Radio Group, Keyano College, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and now with The United Way of Fort McMurray. A regular blogger, Russell's writing can be seen online ( and in multiple publications. His paintings can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the community. Married to Heather and "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, Russell is a passionate spokesperson for United Way.