Canadian children are helping people displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfire one lemonade stand at a time. Since the devastating fire, entrepreneurial kids across the country have been leading the charge to raise money to help evacuees, with pop-up lemonade stands, bake sales, bottle collections and more.
Last week, wildfire spread through Fort McMurray, forcing tens of thousands of people to abandon their homes and burning over 229,000 hectares of the oil town down. While nearly 90 percent of Fort McMurray still stands, around 2,400 buildings were lost in the fire and evacuees probably won’t be able to return to their homes — or, sadly, what’s left of them — for another couple of weeks, leaving many in limbo. The fire has caused extreme damage to some areas of Fort McMurray, forcing evacuees to find shelter in community centres, student housing, campsites and with friends and family, making donations crucial right now.
Part of the Abasand neighbourhood pic.twitter.com/9YuMjIyjKC
— Briar Stewart (@briarstewart) May 9, 2016
The movement to help evacuees has spread across the country via social media, with many parents using the trending hashtag #kidshelpymm to track children’s efforts to help those displaced by the fire. And when it comes to helping victims of the wildfire, every little bit counts, so the efforts of many children across Canada have been inspiring others to make their own contributions.
Some kids felt inspired to donate their own pocket money.
— Holly Mortimer (@Mortimerwrites) May 7, 2016
Other children warmly welcomed new classmates who were forced to change schools due to the wildfire.
"I'll try and help them forget about their problems." My 6 yr old on how he'll welcome students displaced by #ymmfire to class tomorrow. 💛
— Rebecca Haines-Saah (@RebeccaSaah) May 10, 2016
And many teachers and parents were proud to see children taking such an active interest in leading fundraising efforts.
— Kelsey Anderson (@MmeAnderson) May 10, 2016
Canadian children raised hundreds — and in some cases even thousands — of dollars with pop-up lemonade stands, bake sales and other fundraising efforts. In Newfoundland, for instance, a few children living in Paradise set up shop on a street corner selling lemonade and books they’d grown out of to raise money. “They made up their own sign. It was all their own little idea,” Sean Dillon, whose 9-year-old-daughter Sienna helped raise money for evacuees, told CBC. The children worked hard for four hours over the weekend and wound up raising $260, which was later matched by a donor who’d heard about their efforts.
And some kids earned big money — one Whitby Ontario 5-year-old, Alexander Tuck, managed to earn a whopping $2,600 at his lemonade stand in the parking lot of a shopping centre, as passersby kept giving him large bills. “I’m just shocked. The donations coming in are overwhelming. We never expected it to go to this level,” his mother Danielle told CTV News.
Canadians are clearly feeling generous in the wake of the Alberta fire. A group of three siblings in Charlottetown, PEI, also set up a lemonade stand to raise money for Fort McMurray over the weekend, raising over $500. For the Maclellan siblings, it was easy to empathize with those who fled the fire: “They didn’t have anything, like they had to run out very quickly because it’s a fire. Like you have to get out fast. We just needed to do something to help,” Frankie Maclellan, one of the children who worked the stand, told CBC.
All in all, individual Canadians like 10-year-old Frankie and corporations have donated $60 million to the Red Cross for relief efforts. If you want to take a cue from these inspiring kids and get your own family involved in fundraising, you can donate via the Red Cross’ Alberta Fires Appeal and the Canadian government will match your donation.