Cariboo Strong co-organizer Shane Gunn, left, presents a $7,500 donation to South Cariboo Fire Relief Fund committee representative Chris Nickless on Oct.6, outside Jacksons Brew Pub, one of the places still selling the fundraising hoodies and shirts in 100 Mile House. Nickless said the committee will decide soon who will benefit from this generous donation toward wildfire relief. Carole Rooney photo.

Tee-shirt sales raise $100,000 for wildfire aid

Cariboo Strong tees, sweatshirts and decals help support fire victims

The South Cariboo Fire Relief Fund (SCFRF) group was pleased to receive another $7,500 donation from the Cariboo Strong T-Shirt co-organizers on Oct. 6, bringing its share of these incredible donations to $10,000 since the start of the fast-growing fundraiser, which has now raised $100,000 according to co-founders Shane Gunn and Darcy Foster

“Thanks so much to Shane and Darcy so much for what they’re doing on behalf of the fire relief fund,” says SCFRF representative Chris Nickless.

About $9,000 of the total $10,000 donated from the T-shirt sales has been tentatively allocated, and if approved by the SCFRF committee, the recipient will be announced shortly, he adds.

Nickless says all the fire relief funds are further distributed through local societies, as the SCFRF “can’t jump over” the local governments to hand out money directly.

“It will be for the emergency services needs.”

The fire relief fund is administered by the 100 Mile Lions Club, to ensure legitimacy through society disbursements, working with a SCFRF committee made up of the Cariboo Regional District (CRD), District of 100 Mile House, Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and the 100 Mile Lions, he explains.

Nickless says the donation of $7,500 from Barkerville’s Theatre Royale concert in 100 Mile House in August, plus $2,500 from Cariboo Strong t-shirts sold near the show’s entrance, helped further boost the local relief fund.

“We also just got a check for $3,000 from the Innisfail Lions Club, and a cheque for $2,000 from the Duncan Lions Club.”

Another $750 donation came in recently from a Vancouver-area church group, he adds.

As for the T-shirt sales, Gunn explains that all the funds he and Foster raised came through the community’s stalwart support of the Cariboo Strong campaign – by individuals purchasing the logo-emblazoned clothing, by in-kind donations, and through the generosity of retailers displaying and selling these shirts.

The two men worked together to come up with a general design and logo for the T-shirts, hoodies and decals that have been selling like hotcakes in the community.

“This money was raised from the T-shirt sales, and the hoodies sales, so we are really just giving away other people’s money.”

When Gunn and Foster came up with the idea for Cariboo Strong T-shirts, they had no idea how far the local support for it would go.

Incredibly, their current fundraising totals more than $100,000 in net cash for charity – and it’s still growing. As of Oct. 13, $88,000 has already been handed over to distribute across the whole region.

However, Gunn says these Cariboo Strong T-shirts and fleece hoodies are available only until the end of October, when the campaign wraps up, so if you wish to buy one, do it soon.

The hoodies (black or gold), t-shirts (black) and decals are still for sale at Jackson’s Social Club in 100 Mile House, the Iron Horse Pub in Lone Butte, Schickworks Signs & Stitches in Williams Lake, and at www.bcwildfiretshirts.com (where a list of past donations is also online).

Gunn and Foster have focused on raising the money for individuals with needs that are best assessed by the area societies in order to support as many people as possible affected by the 2017 wildfires, he explains.

Gunn says the Cariboo Strong shirt profits are all going to the Cariboo charities – primarily fire departments, fire relief funds, Red Cross and other rescue volunteers to distribute to those victims who might benefit the most from a helping hand.

“We’ve been trying to spread it right across the board, and a lot of the fire departments we’ve been giving to are the non-tax-based (independents) – we’ve given to all of those within the regional district.

”We have also given approximately another $10,000 in-kind donations, decals, t-shirts and hoodies, given to firefighters to use as fundraisers or as a way of saying thank-you,” Gunn adds.

Foster says he is still looking to contact all the far-flung fire departments who had crew members come out to help battle the blazes this year, to send them each a few Cariboo Strong items as a show of gratitude.

“Any of the t-shirts or hoodies that we have left, we are going to give out to the firefighters at the end of the month.”

Noting there may not be specific quantities or sizes to send, he says they will send them to the Cariboo and the BC Wildfire Service, and to as many of the various Canadian or International fire crews as they can.

Foster adds much credit must also go to all those who helped them to raise this huge, six-digit dollar figure.

“We are so grateful to be a part of this community, and really proud of our residents and how they stepped up to support this cause,” says Foster. “It really has become a symbol depicting strength in the face of adversity.”

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