It's really hard to imagine how anyone could break in and vandalize a camp for children with disabilities... but it happened!
The Easter Seals camp in Winfield, British Columbia - 30 minutes south of Vernon and in the heart of the Okanagan Valley - was trashed, and thousands of dollars worth of donated goods and special equipment were stolen.
"When I saw the photos, it was worse than I had imagined," says Nirm Blatchford, Manager, Donor Development Easter Seals British Columbia. "I wondered how we would pay for all the repairs in a time when we were already watching every penny that we spent."
When the nearby community learned of the break-in, they were shocked and upset.
“We were appalled at this crime," says Bill Hubbard, broker/owner of CENTURY 21 Executives Realty Ltd. which has four offices in the Okanagan Valley. "Everyone in our office wanted to be proactive and do something to help."
The 80-person real estate office held a cookout lunch in downtown Vernon, and more than $1,500 was raised in a single day by the community - money needed to replace the items stolen or damaged at the camp for disabled children.
“We had people pulling over at the stop lights and holding up traffic while they jumped out and gave us money,” Hubbard recalls.
Representatives from CENTURY 21 Executives Realty matched those community funds, and presented the resulting $3,000 cheque to Easter Seals.
“This is above the $2,200 the staff of CENTURY 21 Executives Realty Ltd. had already raised to send a local child to Camp Winfield," notes Blatchford.
CENTURY 21 Canada launched its "Easter Seals - Kids to Camp" program in September 2008 across the country, and will be repeating it again this year.