Phyllis Argue of the Red Cross accepts a cheque from BC Liquor Stores to help with wildfire relief efforts. (Tim Collins/ Sooke News Mirror)

Red Cross gets a boost from B.C. Liquor Stores

Total donations in BC were close to $160,000

Chad Rioux, the manager of Sooke’s B.C. liquor store, beamed with pride Thursday morning as he watched the giant novelty cheque being prepared for presentation to the Red Cross.

Rioux and his staff were chosen to present the cheque representing allfunds raised for wildfire relief by B.C. Liquor stores across the province by having raised the second highest total for any single store.

“Sooke was only a couple of hundred dollars short of a store in Westwood Centre (Port Coquitlam) where they operate a very large outlet. We thought, given the size of the store and the size of the community, that they had more than earned the honour of presenting the cheque on behalf of all our outlets,” said Jonathan Castaneto, the director of store operations for B.C. Liquor Stores.

The Sooke store managed to raise more than $11,000 in a six week period that stretched from early August to mid-September. Those funds were added to the money raised at other outlets and made it possible for the final total of $159,509.91 to be presented to the Red Cross.

“These fundraising efforts are vital. Without that generosity, we just couldn’t support the people affected by wildfires,” said Phyllis Argue, director of community relations and planning for the Red Cross.

For Rioux, the fundraising efforts were a natural reaction to the needs of people affected by this summer’s disastrous wildfires.

“The people of Sooke really stepped up, and the staff here were tremendous in promoting the fundraising efforts. We’re all neighbours after all…you never know when Sooke will need the help after a disaster and we know that other parts of the Province would step up and help us as well,” said Rioux.

For Argue, the funds raised by campaigns such as this are vital for the success of the Red Cross’ ability to do their job when disaster strikes.

“These funds allow us the flexibility to respond to needs that government and insurance companies don’t address. We’re finding, even now, that there are psychological issues that people are still dealing with. The harm done by these events go far behind someone losing the contents of their freezer because the power went out,” said Argue.

“Events like this are incredibly difficult to manage and there are people who are still recovering.”

The wildfire relief fundraising came only weeks after B.C. Liquor Stores completed another, similar, campaign to assist B.C. residents with flood relief.

“People in Sooke have shown us all how we’re all connected. Their generosity and the generosity of other communities have been amazing and I can’t thank the staff here and the people who donated enough. They make our work possible,” said Argue.

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