SFU community rallies to support B.C. flood relief response

December 21, 2021
Students at University Highlands School helped collect essentials, including non-perishable food items, personal items and new, unwrapped toys, for people impacted by the B.C. floods.

In early November, southern British Columbia was shaken by the first in a series of devastating atmospheric weather events. As the impacts ranged from washed away highways and stranded communities to underwater farms and homes, the SFU community was ready to take action.

Quickly, the university convened a response group, including representatives from SFU’s three campuses, SFSS, GSS, faculty and staff groups, SFU Childcare Society, University Highlands Elementary School, Point Church and UniverCity Community Association to connect with local and regional agencies to support our impacted neighbours.

The first delivery of toys is dropped off at the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.

In response, a Food, Toiletries and Toy drive was created to collect essentials, including non-perishable food items, personal items and new, unwrapped toys. SFU’s food service partner, Chartwells, generously matched the SFU community food donations pound for pound. The response group was overwhelmed by the support of the community with donation boxes overflowing at the collection locations. We are proud to say that the total donations have added up to over 2,442 items along with approximately $26,000 in cash donations from our community partners.

“It’s been heart-warming to see the immense outpouring of support from the SFU community over the past few weeks and I am very proud of our team of students, staff and community members who generously gave their time in organising this initiative,” says SFU Chief Commercial Services Officer Mark McLaughlin. “We know that many in B.C. are facing a long road to recovery and we are hopeful that our contributions will be able to lessen the burden on families at this difficult time.”

Total donations have added up to more than 2,442 items along with approximately $26,000 in cash donations from the community.

Along with their time and space within the Student Union Building (SUB), SFSS has generously donated funds to help with the drive.

“It's heart-warming to witness all areas of our campus community come together to support folks affected by the flood,” says Jess Dela Cruz, VP Events & Student Affairs with the SFSS. “In total, the SUB received just over 1,000 donations from toiletries, non-perishable food items, toys, new clothing, menstrual hygiene products and items for babies and children. Our focus as a group was to target remote communities and we were able to do that. The SFSS is hoping to do donation drives now in the future not only in times of crisis, but to continue to support our local communities as well.”

'We know that many in BC are facing a long road to recovery and we are hopeful that our contributions will be able to lessen the burden on families at this difficult time.'

- SFU Chief Commercial Services Officer Mark McLaughlin

The outpouring of support from SFU partners including Nesters UniverCity, Polaris Realty (who manages the Harbour Centre), and Chartwells has been profound.

“We understood the need for action to support our students, team and community members in the B.C. area and are honoured to have worked alongside the SFU community with this matching campaign. The way that the SFU community came together during this difficult time is truly admirable,” says Ken Monteith, Regional Vice President at Chartwells. “Our hearts go out to those impacted and we hope the items donated will help the community.”

The physical donations will go organizations within the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, while necessary supplies will be purchased and flown to First Nations communities that were cut off due to flooding.

These donations are headed to organizations including the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau Toy DriveFirst Nations Emergency Services Society and the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association which supports the health and well-being of urban Indigenous people in the Fraser Salish Region.

Outside of the Lower Mainland, communities have been cut off due to infrastructure losses. Thanks to your donations, we have been able to purchase necessary supplies such as hygiene products, medical masks and clean-up materials to be delivered to Langley Airport by Millennium Tents and flown out by the West Coast Pilots Club. These items will be targeted to First Nations communities where roads have been cut off or destroyed, including places like Lytton, Spences Bridge, Siska, Boston Bar, Nicomen and Nooaitch.

We are so grateful to every member of our community that stepped up to provide this essential support in a time of great need. It is in these moments of hardship where our community shines through. As recovery efforts evolve over the coming months, SFU will continue to look for ways to support our neighbours.

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