Massive Show of Support to Barrie Tornado Relief from Individuals and Businesses

by Caroline Franks
Categories: Divisional News

The community spirit and togetherness of Barrie residents shone bright amid the devastation of the July 15 tornado. More than 300 volunteers showed up in the aftermath of the F2 tornado to assist with clean up, clear trees and other debris and to provide support and donations to those affected.

Within hours after the storm, residents filled the nearby Saint Gabriel Catholic School gym to capacity with food, water, clothing, toiletries, pet food and other supplies. That location has been turned back over to the school board, but the overwhelming response will make a big difference to not only those impacted by the tornado, but also others in need in the community.

Major Stephanie Watkinson, Executive Director of The Salvation Army Barrie Bayside Mission Centre, said more than $30,000 in donations have been dropped off at either the Mission or Salvation Army Barrie Church Citadel, not including donations made through The Salvation Army website. The TELUS Friendly Future Foundation has added to the local support with $20,000 meant specifically for tornado relief efforts.

“This TELUS donation will be used as needed to assist families as they move forward with rebuilding. We know families will be needing support for several months and we are prepared to assist these families in the weeks and months ahead,” Watkinson said.

“We have a number of TELUS Team Members in the Barrie area, some of whom were impacted by the tornado,” said Jennifer Kirner, Senior Program Manager of Corporate Citizenship with TELUS.

Volunteer foundation board members approved an emergency grant to The Salvation Army “so we could ensure that the funding would have the most immediate impact to help Barrie residents impacted by the tornado.”

Individuals who were renting homes in the tornado affected area have contacted The Salvation Army looking for a place to stay. They are being housed in hotels temporarily until more permanent accommodations are found.

“People are still needing assistance because they lost everything and we’re still giving out food, clothing and water, along with gift cards,” Watkinson said. “Barrie is a very caring and giving community and this disaster has brought out the best in people who want to help out and provide support.”

Remaining food donations have been dropped off to a Barrie food bank. The clothing will end up on the racks at The Salvation Army Thrift Store and the water is being served with meals at the Barrie Bayside Mission Centre.

Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services (EDS) personnel from Orillia were on-site to provide food, drinks and emotional support to those affected, while the EDS team from Barrie ran the reception centre at Saint Gabriel Catholic School.

Three EDS volunteers from Orillia attended the scene and supported homeowners, residents, first responders, contractors and community volunteers with pizza, fruit, water and other snacks.

The team took the time to listen to people’s stories and to provide words of encouragement and support. They connected with more than 150 people in about two hours. A group of teens helped to load debris into dumpsters and young children pulled wagons filled with snacks for anyone who needed them.

Monetary donations to a tornado relief fund can be made at The Salvation Army’s location at 16 Bayfield Street in Barrie. Online donations can also be made to support those affected at

By Chris McGregor