The Lakeland Fire Assistance Fund has more than $400,000 in it, thanks to the generosity of residents eager to offer help after the April 23 sawmill explosion killed two men, injured more than 20 others and left 150 suddenly out of work.
The most impressive part of the fund is that the money has come in small portions, a thousand dollars here, two thousand dollars there.
The Prince George Community Foundation has been accepting the donations and looking after the fund but that's the easy, heartwarming work.
The challenging and thankless task of distributing the funds lies ahead.
Due to privacy laws, much of that process will be done behind closed doors.
So far, the foundation has asked for Lakeland employees to sign waivers if they believe they will be asking for assistance.
After that, employees will be told what the next steps are in accessing the money the community has donated for their benefit.
The community foundation is rightfully focused on making sure Lakeland employees are protected from public scrutiny when it comes to the dispersal of the funds. They will be told at private closed-door meetings what the process will be, how to apply for funding and when the deadline for applications is.
Each individual Lakeland employee has to make the deeply personal decision of whether they should apply.
Some will refuse out of pride, others won't because they don't want to disclose personal financial information and still others won't because they believe there are other workers more deserving.
In other words, not every Lakeland employee will receive some of those funds, because they chose not to ask for any.
Furthermore, some Lakeland employees who apply for funds may not receive any of the money because they may not meet the needs-based criteria.
A committee, made up of residents without any conflicts of interest with Lakeland or its staff, will have the agonizing job of applying those criteria to the applicants, deciding who gets how much based on financial need.
The reality is not all of the workers will be treated equally.
The criteria for distributing funds to Lakeland employees has not been made public but will be different to what was used in Burns Lake for the distribution of funds donated to help the victims of January's Babine Forest Products sawmill fire.
That money went -- in order of priority -- to injured workers, workers on shift the night of the disaster, workers employed by Babine Forest Products, other workers and employees of mill subcontractors, and community members who have become unemployed due to the spin-off economic effects of the loss of the mill.
For starters, the only people eligible to apply for the Lakeland funds are Lakeland employees and their families.
It quickly gets complicated.
Whether injured workers will be given preference over non-injured workers, those on shift the night of April 23 over those that weren't and even those who worked in the sawmill over those who worked in the planer mill are all difficult decisions that have to be addressed in the criteria.
Some donors will be upset about the private process in place to preserve the confidentiality of the Lakeland workers but that's the way it has to be.
In the same way that blood donors don't get to follow their blood to the recipient and offer input on who deserves to receive that blood, Lakeland donors have to put their trust in the Prince George Community Foundation and the third parties involved in choosing the recipients of the fund and delivering the money.
It's not a perfect situation. There are human beings involved, meaning mistakes may be made, but there are safeguards in place to ensure that the most deserving employees will receive the funds they need.
The difficult work ahead to distribute the funds shouldn't cloud the fund's accomplishment.
An outpouring of support for the victims of the Lakeland tragedy has raised more than $400,000, with more on the way. That's 400,000 reasons for the community to be proud of its caring and generous heart.
-- Managing editor Neil Godbout