News Release

How the JustServe App Is Assisting With Wildfire Relief Efforts in Alberta

When Drayton Valley, Alberta, was recently evacuated due to wildfires, many fled to the nearby town of Hinton. Central Alberta JustServe specialist Sarah Mosaico knew that the JustServe website and app could help the community communicate, mobilize, co-ordinate, collaborate and connect during this natural disaster.

The Central Alberta’s JustServe team, along with local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, put the power of JustServe into action. Their first step was to work with local community leaders to determine needs and how volunteers and community organizations could meet those needs.

Many people recognize that the JustServe website and app are tools to help volunteers connect with non-profit organizations. However, when people are faced with a natural disaster, “there are many other important ways that JustServe can benefit communities,” Mosaico emphasized.

Identifying and Communicating Needs

When local leaders reported that evacuees were staying in vehicles or RVs, Mel Wong knew that “evacuee kits” (72-hour emergency kits) would be valuable. Wong, the local Latter-day Saint communication director, had been involved in relief efforts in Slave Lake, Alberta, during previous wildfires.

The need for evacuee kits was posted on JustServe, along with information on what to include, how to package a kit, and where and when to drop it off.


The JustServe posting was shared on social media, which helped mobilize the community. In under 12 hours, more than 300 evacuee kits, 100 blankets and 100 pillows arrived in Hinton for distribution to those in need.

Hannah Skinner, a Fort Saskatchewan High School student, joined one of several gatherings of Church members in Edmonton and Sherwood Park. She remarked, “I was grateful for the opportunity to help. Sometimes it’s hard to know how one person can help, but when I and my family found out there was something we could do, we were happy to come. … I know things are difficult for people right now, so I hope it can help.”


Upon receiving evacuee kits and bedding, Linda Bennet, the Relief Society president of the local congregation of Hinton, Alberta, expressed her gratitude: “Thank you, thank you. The truckload was amazing. It was so emotional for all … to witness the love and support coming from Edmonton.”

After the initial drop-off of evacuee kits in Hinton, hundreds more kits continued to be collected. The Central Alberta JustServe team knew just what to do. They were able to distribute kits to other communities in need, including the Metis Settlements General Council.

Hundreds of residents of East Prairie Metis Settlement had also been evacuated, and many homes had burned. Mosaico noted, “When the JustServe teams contacted the Metis Settlements to assess their need for kits, they said they were just about to go shopping for the needed items.” The already-assembled kits were redirected the following day.

Making Connections — Bringing Good People Together

JustServe teams in Central Alberta, in collaboration with Chantelle McMullen and the regional Latter-day Saint communication team, have created, over time, a network of community groups linked to JustServe. Mosaico commented, “Through the JustServe program, you find a lot of new friends. When times are tough, you call on old friends.”

For example, the We Together Strong postal worker group had teamed up with JustServe previously. When they heard about needs in Hinton, they joined relief efforts posted on JustServe by the Spruce Grove Community Church. Together they provided approximately 200 meals to displaced persons in Spruce Grove and have offered another 200 meals to firefighters working in Whitecourt.

Brian and Myrna Lillie, JustServe team members from Spruce Grove, encouraged the community to join the Spruce Grove Community Church’s efforts. Latter-day Saint Bishop Corey Hill delivered food kits from the Spruce Grove Ward to the Spruce Grove Community Church to help these efforts. Various other churches and community groups also pitched in, offering gas cards and monetary donations. “It was great to have churches unite to help the community,” shared Brian Lillie.

Community Collaboration

The JustServe website and app frequently help businesses know where employees can volunteer in their communities. During the Alberta fires, JustServe specialists reached out to local businesses that were able to donate substantial funds and gas cards as well as support the relief efforts in other ways.

Mosaico and her JustServe team learned that the local power supply was being threatened in Hinton. They knew that grocery stores were afraid they would lose perishable food items. The JustServe team reached out to a local refrigeration truck company to tell them of the need. The company’s owner, Owen Peynado, was willing to supply a large truck to the city free of charge.

Although needs changed and the truck was not ultimately required, Peynado’s willingness to support the community was appreciated. When asked why he was so willing to help, Peynado said that when he was a teenager, his house had burned down. The community was there for him, and he knew that’s what communities need to do for each other.

The JustServe Disaster Recovery Centre: A Gathering Place

JustServe has also facilitated a Disaster Recovery Centre. Alberta’s Regional JustServe teams have been identifying needs in areas impacted by the wildfires. These needs are turned into JustServe projects, then posted in the Disaster Recovery Centre on Community members have been reaching out through this centre to offer their assistance.

To learn how you can support those impacted by the wildfires, visit the Alberta Wildfire Disaster Recovery Centre.

Read the article in French

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.