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At Your Service: CAFSA now accepting masks

Spare a mask, brother? Victor Fernández is asking that question of fire departments everywhere as he looks for PPE to clean, refurbish, and donate to firefighters who have to do without throughout Central and South America.

Once a lifesaver, always a lifesaver. That must be Victor Fernández's motto.

The ex-St. Albert firefighter, volunteer citizen of the year and head of Canadian Aid for Fire Services Abroad is coming out of retirement ... again. CAFSA is well-known as the organization that takes functional but outdated firefighting equipment – even trucks – and services them to be put back to use. It has been mostly quiet for the last few years, but a pandemic has a way of bringing people back into action.

"I think this is really fitting with what is happening around the world," he explained, referring to his new mask initiative. "It's not an opportunity. It was something to do, and do it right. I had the opportunity, the skills, and the material to do something about it."

Respiratory protection is the number one priority especially for front line workers including firefighters, he noted. The Chilean-born humanitarian and philanthropist explained such a priority lies in stark contrast with the fact that many Central and South American firefighters do not have their own personal mask as part of their personal protective equipment. They share one mask per 10 firefighters, he noted.

"They're suffering quite a bit with this COVID-19. It's to the point that sometimes they have to shut down two or three fire stations, because they're infected."

With that, CAFSA has begun asking fire departments and anyone with 3M Scott Masks (AV 2000, AV 3000, and AV 3000HT) to get in touch with him to consider donating them. He already has 80 masks that will soon be on their way to a fire department in need, and it's a station that holds a special place in his heart: Station 18 with the fire department in Santiago, Chile. 

"That's my old station," he offered. "I never forgot my beginnings. I'm very humbled for that. I started with them, and I promised to help them as much as I can for the rest of my life. Here's another opportunity. I never forget about them."

If you can help or if you know of a fire department that can, please contact Fernández by phone at 780-913-4788 or via email at [email protected].

Kettles come up close to brimming

The St. Albert Salvation Army closed up its 2020 Christmas Kettle campaign with a total collection of $320,625 which was approximately 80 per cent of its goal of $400,000.

The funding will be used toward the church's year-long community support efforts. You can still offer a donation through its office via credit card payments. The church is located at 165 Liberton Dr. An online donation link has also been set up for those that want to donate but are not able to get out:

SACF grants announced

The St. Albert Community Foundation recently announces its 2020 granting allocations:

  • St. Albert Public Schools (Paul Kane Scholarships): $1,000
  • Don Wheaton Family YMCA: $475
  • Canadian Parents for French: $669
  • City of St. Albert - St Albert Public Library (Harder): $5,307
  • City of St. Albert - St Albert Public Library (Future): $1,082
  • Edmonton After School Care Association: $1,913
  • Young Life of Canada: $2,022
  • Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation: $11,000
  • Mental Health Foundation: $2,000
  • St. Albert Rotary Music Festival Heitzman Scholarship: $1,022
  • T8N Crisis Fund: $2,106
  • The Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation: $6,132
  • KDM Helping Hands: $3,000
  • Sturgeon Community Hospital Foundation: $8,000
  • Kaleo Collective: $4,000
  • Friends of St. Albert Housing Society: $3,000
  • St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families: $8,302
  • Arts and Heritage Foundation: $2,145
  • Camp Warwa: $5,000
  • Community Refugee Committee of St Albert: $3,000
  • St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association: $2,500
  • STAR Literacy: $3,000
  • Lo-Se-Ca Foundation: $3,000
  • Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres, Sturgeon County: $3,500
  • St. Albert Rotary Music Festival Foundations: $10,000
  • Wilderness Youth Challenge Program: $2,000

The SACF also announces grants for Round Two of its Emergency Community Support Fund:

  • St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families: $10,000
  • Friends of the St. Albert Housing Society: $9,000
  • Redwater Fellowship of Churches Food Bank: $3,988
  • Kaleo Collective: $9,200
  • St. Albert Family Resource Centre: $2,700
  • Outloud St. Albert: $3,000
  • Sturgeon County: $2,000
  • STAR Literacy: $4,000
  • Sturgeon Community Hospital Foundation: $2,112
  • Shepard’s Care Foundation: $4,000

Visit for more information.

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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