On July 10, Jill Walker set up a Facebook page—“B.C. 4 wheelin’ donation convoy”—putting out the call for donations for Ashcroft and area, and drivers willing to bring the supplies here. “This is for the small communities outside of Kamloops,” she posted. “Please understand the smaller communities where the people have not left their homes need help as well. They have no water, many with no power; they have nowhere to go pick up these things. We as a human race need to remember these people. We would want to be helped if we needed it. We are fortunate. This is for Ashcroft and surrounding areas.”
Walker says that the Facebook page just “blew up”. The Four Wheel Drive Association of BC, and clubs from North Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, and the Fraser Valley, got involved, asking what was needed.
On July 11 Ashcroft resident Charlene (Fitzpatrick) Spence—who lived in the village for many years, and moved back to it in early July—posted an update to the group.
She had found out from the Red Cross that residents of the village were not eligible for assistance, because they had not been evacuated; but she knew that some people were having a tough time.
“I thought ‘How can people survive here?’” she told The Journal. “People have no work or income, and there was no access to cash to pay for groceries.”
Spence had gone down to the coast due to smoky conditions, but offered to coordinate things for a convoy that was planned for the morning of Saturday, July 15. Those wanting to participate were asked to be at Cottonwood Mall in Chilliwack at 8 a.m., with drop-offs of donations also encouraged.
Matthew Harraway of North Vancouver set up a drop-off spot and reported that donations were pouring in. Thirty-five cases of energy drinks were donated in Richmond. Goods were waiting to be picked up in Tsawwassen, Surrey, Vancouver, and other places. Drivers stepped forward and offered their vehicles to transport the goods north.
Thus it was that on the afternoon of July 15, a 20-vehicle convoy calling itself “Team Ashcroft” pulled into town, after first making a stop to drop off supplies in Spences Bridge. Many of the vehicles sported Canadian flags, and were covered in messages: “BC Strong”; “BC Wildfire Relief Ashcroft”; and of course “Team Ashcroft”.
The first stop was at the Royal Canadian Legion, where perishables—meat and bread—were dropped off to help replenish supplies that had been depleted over the last week, as the Legion provided lunch and dinner every day to firefighters and Telus and Hydro crews.
Then the convoy proceeded to the Community Hall on Bancroft, where vehicles pulled up one by one at the back of the hall and unloaded their supplies.
A team of local volunteers was on hand to help sort the donations and place them around the hall. Food, water, toiletries, diapers, formula, baby food, and much more had been donated; there were even games and colouring books for children. More than one person was on the verge of tears, watching the steady stream of items stream in and all the volunteers hard at work.
The convoy then moved on to the supply centre at the River Inn, to drop off clothing, household items, and more for all area evacuees. Peter Spence posted to Facebook: “Oh man … these people ‘BC 4 Wheel Drive Convoy’ have the biggest hearts. You are the best … thank you from every part of my being.
“It’s so amazing that you all came from all over the lower mainland to bring help to so many. You rock and if there is ever a need for me, I will be there for you.
“The looks of happiness when you rolled thru and stopped to give some help to our small group of evacuees in Spences Bridge just shows how many generous and giving people are still out there.”