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Kelowna  

Rallying for Fort Mac

While Fort McMurray residents continue to be forced out of their homes, Canadians are stepping up to help.

In Kelowna, where many suffered through the devastating Okanagan Mountain Park blaze in 2003, businesses and families are showing solidarity by supporting the fire ravaged Alberta community with several fundraising efforts.

A bottle drive for evacuees is being held in Kelowna on Saturday, May 14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2076 Enterprise Way – the old Western Star site.

Amber Geissler co-founded the event ‘Hearts on fire for Northern Alberta,’ after both her family and friends were directly impacted by the wildfire. Geissler reached out to Jody Harvey-Quibell who runs the non-profit ‘Save Kindness Society,’ for her help.
 
"When I heard that the suicide rate in Alberta tripled after the employment rate dropped, it really struck home. My little brother James took his life after losing his job in 2010. During times of extreme distress, it is so important for the community to lift each other up until the shock wears off and people can stand for themselves again,” she said.

The community is coming together to put on the event. The Callahan Property Group is donating their space on Enterprise Way, while Royal LePage and Secure-Rite Mobile Storage provide a truck and storage container for the bottle-drive. Tonics Pub, McCullough Station and Dakoda’s Sports Bar also donated their recyclables to the cause.

Volunteers will be on hand to sort donations on Saturday as well. Items being accepted are:

  • All recyclable bottles, cans, juice containers
  • New diapers, wipes
  • New toiletries, towels, bedding, pillows
  • New dog and cat food, as well as supplies
  • Monetary donations

Emily Eising, who is also a co-ordinator of the event, says she hopes the bottle drive will raise more than $20,000.

“Kelowna has a heart for reaching out to other people,” she said. “A lot of people will be struggling to get toiletries, things like a toothbrush and toothpaste.”

Local resident Andrew Garagan has taken it upon himself to personally co-ordinate and accept material donations for evacuees of the Fort McMurray fires. Now his efforts are being partnered with the Canadian Brewhouse who will continue to collect and transport donations.

The Canadian Brewhouse has been accepting donations for evacuees and has a storage facility and transport truck arranged for the delivery of these donations to the evacuee centers in Alberta. Garagan will also be on hand Saturday to help with the Hearts on Fire for Fort McMurray event.
 
Also on Saturday, Rusty’s Steakhouse and the Kelowna Kinsmen Club are organizing a barbecue. The restaurant is partnering with That Guy Van Lines to fill a five-ton truck with donations. The burgers hit the grill at Rusty's at 10 a.m. and the event will wrap up about 5 p.m.

Two local car dealerships in the city are also doing their part. On Saturday, Kelowna Chrysler Dodge Jeep will be selling burgers or hotdogs with chips and a pop for $3.50. While Orchard Ford recently collected enough donations and supplies to fill a Transit Connect Van, which is currently on its way to the Fort McMurray evacuees.

Next Wednesday, May 18, the Winfield Bakery, is donating all proceeds from sales to aid Fort McMurray.

The B.C. government has provided a $300,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross and BC Liquor Stores collected more than $276,000 from customers in just a week.  

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