Amanda McRae, left, Tim Oh, Jessica Walders, and Coltin Ashley joined forces on Aug. 11 at the Tofino Legion to raise money for those affected by the B.C. wildfires. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Tofino Legion hosts wildfire fundraiser

“Don’t underestimate what you’re capable of and what a community like this is capable of.”

The Friday, Aug. 11 community fundraising event at the Tofino Legion pulled in over $5,400 for those impacted by B.C. wildfires.

The donation will go directly to the Canadian Red Cross British Columbia Fires Appeal, which was established to provide immediate and long-term financial aid to evacuees.

“I’m pretty stoked on that for sure,” said event organizer Jessica Walders.

“I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of people turning out or any monetary value. I was going to be happy with anything. I’ve done nothing on that sort of scale before. I had no idea. If you told me we were going to raise that much money, I would have been blown away. It was a pleasant surprise for sure.”

Walders said the fundraiser was planned in less than two weeks with the help of Duncan McMaster, Rene Gibson and Jonny Jenkins.

“Sure it was my idea, but I wouldn’t have been able to do a fraction of what happened without everyone being so open minded and giving with their time,” she said.

Walders, originally from Calgary, initiated the wildfire relief event in the same spirit of a gathering she hosted for the Calgary flooding that occurred in 2013.

“It was very, very small. It was literally just like a house party with friends, but we had people come and donate food, clothing, bedding and money so we could give it to the Red Cross,” she said.

“I remembered how good that felt for me and how much of a difference it made. Even just a small amount.”

Walders praised her new town for being so generous with their time and resources.

“It’s incredible the community we live in and how quick people are to say, ‘Yeah, let’s do this,’ without question,” she said.

“Don’t underestimate what you’re capable of and what a community like this is capable of. It’s pretty incredible what people are willing to do.”

Legion executive member Duncan McMaster agreed.

“Tofitians genuinely care about their neighbours,” he wrote in an email to the Westerly.

“As people from all over the world visit Tofino, the concept of neighbours stretches not only to the mainland, but other parts of the world as well. I am sure everyone thinks that our turn will come someday.”

He added that Tofino’s generous business community and its hard-core group of committed volunteers deserve all the plaudits.

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