After hearing about the fires in Fort McMurray, the women of the Bowser Legion Ladies Auxiliary decided to put a challenge out province-wide.
Bowser Ladies Auxiliary (LA) president Kathleen Wagstaff said they challenged the LAs throughout the province to donate $500 to the Canadian Red Cross for the people in Fort McMurray.
"We just decided to put a challenge out there and see what happens and this is what happened. I'm just thrilled," Wagstaff said of the $8,600 raised by Ladies Auxiliaries throughout the province.
Central Vancouver Island zone commander Judi Davis said Wagstaff contacted her shortly after the fires broke out in Alberta in May.
"Kathleen had sent me an email about challenging the valley and then she said, 'Do you think we could do it province wide?' and I sent the letter to command for the mass address list," Davis said.
Davis said the challenge was for the LAs to "meet or beat" the Bowser LAs total of $500.
"A lot of them can do the $500, but a lot of them can't. They did what they could," Davis said. "The LAs are starting to hurt, to lose more and more all the time."
Members of the North Island Emergency Response Team for the Canadian Red Cross were on hand at the Bowser Legion on Wednesday
Nov. 16) for the cheque presentation, and Derrick Harvey of the Canadian Red Cross said that as of about three weeks ago more than $320 million had been raised for Fort McMurray.
"All of that money will be spent in Fort McMurray, it won't be spent anywhere else," Harvey said. "If you specify where you would like your funds to go, that's exactly where it goes."
Of the millions raised, Harvey said about 70 per cent has been spent.
He also said while the money goes toward helping families directly, some of it will also go to replace infrastructure such as children's playgrounds or housing.
Harvey said the Red Cross offices will remain open in Fort McMurray for another two or three years.
"We carry on until, basically, our job is done," he said.