Chilliwack’s Emily Loewen is proof that one person, a small one at that, can make a big difference.
When a wildfire wiped out the village of Lytton in early July, the nine-year-old wanted to help. She started with a humble lemonade stand, asking $2 a cup, and it grew from there.
When the little girl finally poured her last lemonade a few days ago, the final fundraising tally stood at $3,400.
On Tuesday (Aug. 3), sitting at the same table at the same corner where it all began, at Charles Street and First Avenue, Loewen presented that money to Lytton mayor Jan Polderman.
“When my dad told me Lytton was on fire, I wanted to help,” she said.
Loewen made $220 the first two hours alone on the day she set up her lemonade stand, getting help from seven-year-old stepsister Savannah Tickle and neighbor Gracie MacKinnon. Encouraged by that, she turned it into a daily exercise, hoping to raise $1,000. There were days under the red-hot scorching sun when she just wanted to pack it up, go inside and watch TV, but she kept going.
“It was 10 out of 10,” she said when asked how difficult it was sitting out in the heat.
But she fought the urge to drink all the lemonade herself, and watched as her efforts paid off.
“One day we went to a place (Vedder Park) and a bunch of bikers came down to give us money,” she said. “My dad had to go to the store to get big jugs of water because we sold out from just one group of bikers.”
The bikers were part of the ‘Let’s Ride Fraser Valley’ and ‘Fraser Valley Riders Group’ on Facebook, out for their Sunday poker run. Two days later, the ‘Two Wheel Tuesday’ bikers made a stop at the Charles Street stand.
By the time that day was done, the fundraising tally topped $2,400 and donations from friends and family pushed the final total to $3,440.
The biggest single donation made was $500 by Brad Marbry of Fort St. John.
“I feel happy, because I’m helping other people that I don’t know,” she said. “I hope the money is used to help them get food and stuff like that to help them survive.”
When he accepted the donation from Loewen, Polderman gave her a Lytton pin as a momento, and told her the money may go to help re-stock the Lytton library once it’s rebuilt. Loewen took a moment to consider that, picturing Lytton children reading books bought with her donation.
“Good!” she said with a grin.
Polderman has been back to Lytton several times since the town was evacuated and then destroyed June 30. In a dark time, he said he’s been floored by the community response, and Loewen’s donation is a heartwarming example.
“It’s been reassuring and comforting knowing so many people care, especially people as young as Emily,” Polderman said. “Her efforts are appreciated and there needs to be more people in the world like her.”