A local fundraiser in response to the wildfires in the Cariboo-Chilcotin has already donated $40,000 with more to go.
The B.C. Wildfire T-shirts, featuring a crest with images of bomber, helicopter and heavy machinery on it, have been selling like hotcakes around the Cariboo.
“It’s been kind of crazy. We’re still just selling them as fast as we can get them,” says Darcy Foster, one of the organizers. Him and his fundraising partner, Shane Gunn have raised approximately $80,000 do far, he figures.
They’ve sold approximately 3,500 T-shirts, although Foster guesses that by the end of the weekend they’ll have sold 5,000.
They’re encouraging people to wear their T-shirts to the Community Celebration in Centennial Park on Sept. 3. The T-shirts will be on sale there.
“We were just trying to do something that would build the community spirit, show that the loggers were a big part of fighting the fires and raise some money for those local fire halls.”
The money is being donated to volunteer fire halls that are not part of the regional district.
So far, the pair has contributed $2,500 each to seven fire halls, including the Greeny Lake and Hawkins Lake Volunteer Fire Departments; $5,000 to the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department, who lost their fire hall to the Elephant Hill Fire; $2,500 to the South Cariboo Fire Relief Fund; and $15,000 to the Canadian Red Cross.
Foster says it’s incredible getting to hand off the money to the volunteer fire departments.
“Going out to Greeny Lake, it was just Shane and I and the firefighters. $2,500 for them was a lot of money. They usually have to do a whole heck of a lot of fundraising to generate that kind of cash,” he says.
“The coolest thing was to see how proud they were.”
When they visited Greeny Lake, the firefighters told them how they put out a small lightning caused fire in the area.
“They have this cool fire boat that they rigged out and they actually got in that boat, loaded it up with firefighters and drove out and put out a fire at Timothy Lake that could have been terribly worse than it was,” says Foster. “They had all these photos they were showing us and it was really special to see the pride that they had in their volunteer fire department and the fact that they knew that they had done something really important that was probably never going to get into the newspaper because there were so many other fires around.
“Hearing those stories and seeing how touched they were to get T-shirts and have a couple guys they don’t know show up and give them money and to have repeated that over and over in the last week or so, it’s incredible.”
Foster emphases that the money isn’t coming from him and Gunn, they’re just collecting the funds.
“It’s really all from the people who bought T-shirts who are giving them the money.”
Foster says they’ve gotten more efficient since they first started selling the T-shirts and may put out some hoodies as the weather starts to cool, but as the threat of fire dies they will slow down in their sales.
T-shirts are available in the South Cariboo at The Outlaw, the Iron Horse and Jackson’s Social Club or via www.bcwildfiretshirts.com.
“I have a very deep feeling of gratitude for all the people in the community that came up and said thank you for what we are doing, when in fact we’re not really doing that much. We’re just trying to build community spirit and we’re really thankful we are able to take that community spirit and turn that into some real donations for the local non-funded fire halls.”