Bottle Drives in Sooke and Langford on March 27 raised over $11,900 that will go toward making sure a young woman who was diagnosed with leukemia in February can have her family by her side during treatment.
Shae Hamilton, 22, is undergoing leukemia treatment in Vancouver on a rotating schedule for the next seven months. The funds from the bottle drives — and $8,150 from a GoFundMe — will help cover the family’s Vancouver accommodation expenses. The family isn’t taking any more donations as enough has been raised to cover their costs.
Glendora Scarfone, a family friend and the one of bottle drive’s organizers, said tons of bottles were hauled from the Langford Walmart and Dumont Tirecraft and Auto Centre in Sooke.
Volunteers could barely keep up with what turned into an all-day-long sorting effort as the bottles flowed in. Scarfone said that the physically distanced volunteers were working tirelessly as the bottle donations took up a quarter of the Walmart’s parking lot. Some people dropping bottles off also stayed and joined in the sorting work.
The Encorp Return-It depot told Scarfone it was one of the biggest drives staff there have ever seen. The depot was still counting the bottles on Tuesday.
“The family is overwhelmed,” Scarfone said. “There’s a few of us who know the family and are close to the family, but (it was) overwhelmingly people that don’t know the family very well or just wanted to support.”
Scarfone said people walking through the parking lots were stopping to give cash donations after learning about the cause.
“That’s the main piece that we’re taking away from it, it’s that sense of community and support,” she said. “Cancer touches all of us at some point in our lives and everybody has the same desire to help each other.”
Scarfone said Shae has at least three straight months of treatment in Vancouver. After that, she’ll be reassessed to see if she can come home every other month.
“Shae is responding really well to treatment, she’s in remission so that’s phenomenal news,” Scarfone said. “The next seven months are about pushing her back further into remission.”