A fund created by a trio of local organizations to help Fraser Valley flood victims has received $1.5 million in donations in its first 17 days and is now distributing funds to on-the-ground relief agencies.
The Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund (ADRF) was established on Nov. 17 by Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF), the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) and the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).
While businesses have provided nearly two-thirds of the monetary value of funds raised, an extraordinary number of individual contributions have been recorded. Over 3,500 donations have been received — an indication of widespread community support.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generous and compassionate response from people in the Fraser Valley and beyond,” said Craig Toews, Vice President External Relations UFV. “It is inspiring to see neighbours helping neighbours and organizations stepping up in this time of incredible need. We also know the recovery will be long and arduous with more help required as the true costs emerge. Together we will help those who are most affected recover and thrive.”
The ADRF coalition is actively working with the BC Agriculture Council to ensure relief will be provided to growers, farming families, and businesses directly impacted by flooding. Grants will also be made to affected farms and businesses by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce in the coming weeks.
The community response and support have stretched far beyond the Fraser Valley.
“We’re so thankful for the support coming from the people of Abbotsford and this generosity is reaching right across every province in Canada — and it’s not stopping there,” said Wendy Neufeld, Executive Director of ACF. “We’re seeing donations come in from around the globe: Australia, Germany, Italy, Sweden, England — even an inquiry from Taiwan. People see the images and know help is needed.”
Denise Thandi, Chair of the Community Grants Committee at ACF, is excited and motivated to oversee the ADRF’s granting process of putting immediate assistance and resources into helping hands on the front lines.
“Our team is working quickly and diligently to put the generosity of our community into action on the ground,” she noted. One of our first recipients is the Kids Play Youth Foundation, which stepped up to provide food and essential care packages: non-perishable food items, warm clothing, toiletries, and necessities to help people in need. It is incredibly important to have partners like this making a difference.”
The BC Cancer Foundation will receive funding to help patients and their families get to their appointments and treatments despite the floods and aftermath.
“When facing a cancer diagnosis, you shouldn’t have to worry about how to get to and from radiation appointments, access chemotherapy, or put food on the table for your family,” said Sarah Roth, President & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation.
Cares Counselling, based in Abbotsford, is another early recipient of funding that will help those experiencing declining mental health in the wake of the disaster.
“Cares Counselling recognizes the impact that these floods have had on mental health. We want to make sure flood survivors and those involved in the rescue and relief efforts can access counselling free of charge as they cope with recovering from this disaster,” said Irene Heinrichs, Executive Director Cares Counselling. “We are grateful to the ADRF for their support in making this happen.”
Donations to the Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund can be made online at the ADRF site. If your organization would like to apply for a funding grant that will be used to directly assist people affected by the flood, please connect here.
The Abbotsford Disaster Relief fund is a collaboration between three organizations:
Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF)
Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce (ACOC)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV)