The Fernie Ghostriders raised $3300 for Fernie Friends for Friends through their pink jersey campaign. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Generosity in the Elk Valley – the receivers

A two-part feature focusing on the many groups and businesses that give, and those who benefit

In Chris Moulton’s experience, Fernie is a community that never stops giving.

It’s what drives the Fernie Friends for Friends co-founder to help people battling cancer year after year.

The not-for-profit organization offers financial and emotional support to cancer patients and their families, relying entirely on donations and volunteers.

“Support from the people of Fernie and everywhere else is everything to us. Without them we have nothing,” said Moulton.

“Their generosity gives us the opportunity to help those battling the terrible disease of cancer.

“Every dollar they give goes right to the people. On top of the donations, the warmth of their hearts and the love the people in community shows motivates us to keep helping those in need.”

Friends for Friends receives support all year long but Moulton and his team can afford to be extra generous this Christmas after being presented with a cheque for $3300 by the Fernie Ghostriders.

The Junior B hockey team raised the money through their pink jersey campaign earlier this season and their donation will help Friends for Friends deliver Christmas baskets, and financial assistance to those in need.

Moulton said the holiday season is both a challenging and happy time for the group.

“It’s a time where our group gets together and celebrates what we have done, and the people we have helped throughout the year,” he said.

“A time we are thankful that our friends are able to spend time with their families despite having their battles with cancer… But it’s also unfortunately a time where we remember those lost to the disease as well those still fighting that are not able to truly enjoy the holidays.

“We try to help and make the holidays more enjoyable.”

The Fernie Women’s Resource Centre (FWRC) is another local charity that will support families throughout the holiday season.

FWRC Executive Director Lauren Fox said it’s a busy time of year for the not-for-profit organization due to the volume of donations and high demand for services.

“We are always so impressed and grateful for people’s generosity at this time of year,” she said.

“This is because we also know that it is a time of year that can be very stressful for people. There are a lot of cultural norms around the holidays that add pressure and expectations.

“Some people do not have family or friends to spend time with and will be isolated over the holidays. Some people might not have any extra money to buy their children gifts let alone a Christmas dinner. This can leave people feeling a lot of shame, guilt and sadness.”

FWRC has been the beneficiary of several fundraisers leading up Christmas, including the Red Apple and Legacy Ford toy drives, which collectively provided the centre with more than four truckloads of toys.

The Fernie Fire Department has released a charity calendar with local photography company Decoro Portraits to raise funds for the FWRC. Local businesses and residents have also made donations in the forms of cash, grocery gift cards and gifts.

“When we tell women that we have a toy drive that will help them with Christmas gifts for their kids or that we can give them a grocery gift card so they can manage food over the holidays there are usually tears of relief, hugs and many, many thank yous,” said Fox.

“The support from the community is invaluable. We cannot help women and families without their generosity.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with a cancer diagnosis, contact Fernie Friends for Friends via ferniefriends@gmail.com or 250-423-4902.

If you are dealing with or have dealt with any sort of abuse at any point in your life, help is at hand. Drop into the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre at 1592 10th Avenue or call 250-423-4687 or 1-800-339-7393 toll free from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Safe Homes provides free temporary shelter for women and children fleeing violence. Available 24/7, call 1-800-200-3003. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line offers free support services for any crisis situation, call 1-888-353-2253.

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The Red Apple Toy Drive raised two truckloads of toys for the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre this year. Photo by Emily Park Photography

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