Well, on Sunday, May 12th - Mother's Day - the four of us were at my daughter's dance competition, waiting for her to come on stage for her second dance of the day, when my husband got a text message from a friend that there was a massive fire on our street and everyone was being evacuated! Our hearts just stopped. Our dog, Sydney was home alone. We had no idea where the fire was on our street, just that it involved three homes, possibly more. My husband rushed home to see what was happening and I stayed to watch our daughters last dance, trying to stay calm while my son cried beside me, worried for his puppy dog and his toys.
It felt like ages before my husband texted that he got our dog out and that the fire was at the end of our street, about 10 houses down from ours. Here is the photo of our street that he sent me:
You can see all the smoke still quite thick, yet most of the fire was already out at this point. The whole area was blocked off and all the houses on the street had been evacuated for precaution. This all happened right around noon and we were let back into our homes at about 4pm. The fire had destroyed three homes and damaged two more :-( Devastating and terrifying how quickly it happened. If there had been any wind that day, it would have been much worse.
It is what happened next though that I really want to share with you. When I picked my kids up from school the next day, my daughter and her friends swarmed me asking if they could do a lemonade stand to raise money for the houses that burned down - "We want to call it "Help the Homes"!" they said. Well, I have to confess to you here, I was tired, really tired (remember, no sleep due to a still smoldering fire just down the street from me!), and I was just about to say "no, not today", when I looked at their excited faces and decided, what could it hurt - we'll set up a little table for a bit and maybe collect a few dollars to donate to the fire relief fund I'm sure someone would set up.
So we headed to the grocery store, I gave my 8 year old daughter a basket and said "get what you need". She got Iced Tea, cups and napkins. She also approached the store Manager and told her what her and her friends were going to do! He said write a letter and we'll get you a donation. This Mom was feeling proud!
We got home and set up right outside our house with two tv tray tables, two jugs of Iced Tea, a sleeve of cups, and a whiteboard with "Help The Homes" Fundraiser, Iced Tea by donation". It was just my two kids . . . where were the friends??? One car stops, hands the kids a $20 bill. Another car stops, hands the kids $15. More cars, more big donations. I called the Mom/caregiver of the other two girls that organized this that day at school and said "Help!!" They were there right away and thank goodness for that!!! This little Iced Tea stand that I thought would maybe make $50 actually made $950 in just a few hours!!!!
Here is the original gang of kids that Monday after school:
The girls took control of the drink station and sent the little brothers out to the corner with signs . . .
Started off good, but you know boys!
The girls soon realized they had to do the signs too! And we picked up one more helper . . .
and then on Tuesday we picked up more helpers . . . and more one Wednesday, and even more on Thursday!! The response from the community that we had only begun to call our home less than a year ago, was AMAZING!!!!
Even Santa showed up to help!
And one neighbour made a more visible sign for the kids:
And Sobey's donated 20 dozen cupcakes to add to our Iced Tea stand that had now grown to two large tables, and eventually included jugs of Kool Aid too!!
The people of the community were looking for a way to help these families that lost their homes, and the kids gave them the chance to do just that. The donations were incredible!! The kids set up their stand for four days, for four hours each of these days, and they raised over $4000!!!!
Even the Fire investigation team stopped by for a drink and donated! AND the kids were interviewed by three different news stations!!! They all thought this was the coolest, and that now they are TV stars, of course!! It became a joke with the parents that when we needed the kids to all gather around just tell them the news guys was coming!
Then on the Saturday, we joined forces with another group of kids and parents that had organized a hot dog stand with cotton candy, popcorn, chocolate bars, and water. The fundraiser had grown so much, we had to set up across the street by the park, and once again we were overwhelmed with the turnout and support!!! By the end of the three hours we set up this day, the total raised was about $7700!!!!
Three Fire Trucks showed up and let the kids tour the trucks. The firemen gave them Fire Safety colouring books and firemen hats too!!! Getting to sit up front and wear the head set was my son's favourite part of course!!! My hats off to these brave and amazing men and women of the Edmonton Fire Departments!!!
I am among many incredibly proud parents from this neighbourhood - these kids are amazing for their big hearts and dedication to this fundraiser!! They showed all of us what love and kindness there is in our community - in this world! - despite the tragedies that do occur. We met so many wonderful people throughout this week of fundraising, and have made some great new friends. My kids saw the good in this world, and that alone makes me rest better at night.
Before I end off here, I must throw out a few thank yous. Thank you to Monty's restaurant for feeding the troops with pizza on that Tuesday night when the parents were still unprepared for the success and chaos of this endeavor! Thank you to Sobey's for donating 20 dozen delicious cupcakes to give out with the Iced Tea!! Thank you to my neighbours for arranging the cupcakes and lending us some tables and a bigger Iced Tea container - this saved me many trips in and out of my house to refill the jugs!!! Thank you to Global News, CTV, and CBC for showing up to interview our kids and put their fundraising efforts on the news!! Thank you to everyone who helped advertise via radio, Facebook, and Twitter - incredible how fast and far this spread!!! Thank you to 102.3 FM "The Now!" for dropping by with a cooler full of popsicles on that warm Saturday afternoon!! Thank you to Kanga Inflatables and Alberta Traffic Safety Services for your substantially generous donations - you ROCK!!!! Thank you to all the parents and neighbours that helped out and collectively "babysat" all those kids!!! When you spend all their lives teaching them "stranger danger" and then all of a sudden they are going up to cars and taking money from strangers, it truly takes a village to teach them the difference and to watch over them during this time! Lastly, and my apologies to anyone I know I've forgotten, I want to thank all the kids - for having the hearts to think this up and get it started in the first place, and for showing us adults how much goodness can come from one small act of kindness!!! As one of the home owners from the fire said, "Angels, they are all angels!"
** More donations have trickled in since and the kids will be depositing over $8000 this coming Saturday at our local ATB Financial where a Fire Relief Fund has been set up. If you would like to contribute to the fund you may do so at any ATB Financial, under "Lewis Estates Fire Relief Fund".
My cup runneth over,