Community steps up for Africa fundraiser

Famine in the Horn of Africa did not go unnoticed in Qualicum Beach, as locals rally to help

The Qualicum Beach School of Dance was front and centre at Thursday night's fundraiser for Somalia.

The Qualicum Beach School of Dance was front and centre at Thursday night's fundraiser for Somalia.

The heart-wrenching images of starving children in the Horn of Africa hit a nerve in Qualicum Beach, where residents flocked to an emergency fundraiser for Somalia Aug. 11.

The event, organized by Qualicum Beach residents Jean Young and Lynette Kershaw, was thrown together in just over two weeks but still managed to attract about 250 people to the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre to sample appetizers donated by local restaurants and enjoy performances by local talent.

Young said she felt she had little choice but to do something, once she saw the images of what was happening in Somalia.

“I like to check the news out at the end of the day and lately it has been terrible,” she said. “You see those kids and babies and they’re dying. It’s been going on for days and you want to do something. There are poor people all over the world but it’s not as devastating as it is in Somalia. That’s why we thought we wanted to do something to raise awareness.”

Kershaw jumped at the chance when Young first approached her.

“We live in such a wonderful place and we complain about the weather and the HST and really, when you see the images on TV, you realize you don’t have anything to complain about,” she said. “Jean approached me and said you know, we have so much to be thankful for. Will you help me? And I said, sure.”

The pair swung into action, aided by a steady stream of volunteers who flocked to the cause, led by the Sunrise Rotary Club, the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce.

“I have to say we live in a lovely community,” Young said. “The people have come forward with their donations and help.”

Kershaw agreed.

“Everyone really wanted to do something and contribute,” she said.

The evening’s performances included pieces by the Junior B2B group, the Qualicum Beach School of Dance, singer/songwriter Debbie Ryan, Talia Jespersen with an impressive hula-hoop performance and Phil and Ben Dwyer.

The event raised a total of $ 10,000, which will be matched by the federal government.