Kelowna residents dropped off bags upon bags of empty bottles to the Hearts On Fire fundraising event Saturday, which was aimed at helping Fort. McMurray residents forced from their homes by wildfire.
Amber Geissler, with the Save the Kindness Society, a federally-registered non-profit organization based in Kelowna, co-organized the bottle drive with Andrew Garagan, who had created a Facebook page called Kelowna Helping Ft. McMurray.
Their aim was to raise $10,000 Saturday, and they said they had likely surpassed that amount in the early hours of the event.
Both Geissler and Garagan are from Alberta originally, so they followed news coverage of the fire closely, as well as getting regular updates from loved ones who were in the midst of it.
“There were people stuck, people losing there homes and worried about their animals,” said Geissler. “It makes you feel helpless to be so far away from them. At least this is a way to do something.”
Garagan added that the amount of support he’s received from the community reflects how personally Okanagan residents have taken the events in Alberta.
“Kelowna knows exactly what forest fires can do,” he said.
Money raised from the Hearts on Fire for Northern Alberta bottle drive will be converted into gift cards, which will be delivered to evacuee centres in Edmonton and Calgary for distribution to families in need.
All recyclable bottles, cans and juice containers, new diapers, wipes and toiletries, new towels, bedding and blankets, new dog and car food, cages and pet supplies were accepted. .
The bottle drive will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 2076 Enterprise Way.