Grandmothers form the Bottle Brigade

Parksville Qualicum Beach group raises funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation

The Oceanside Grandmothers to Grandmothers Bottle Brigade is working hard for orphans in Africa.

“On August 29 — or Monsoon Saturday as we call it now — the Oceanside Grandmothers held a bottle drive,” said representative Rita Kleinfelder. “Our community responded with an amazing $2,600 worth of 10 and 20-cent containers.”

She said they wanted to thank the community for their ongoing support and explain where the money goes in advance of their Christmas fair.

The local chapter of the international Grandmothers to Grandmother’s bottle campaign currently has 17 active members and has raised over $300,000 since they started in 2006.

The campaign “supports African orphans of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the grandmothers raising them” by working with the Stephen Lewis Foundation, she said.

About $21,000 of that came from their bottle brigade, which works with the Parksville and Qualicum Beach recycling centres, allowing people “to donate money from their recycling efforts to our cause. Simply tell the clerk — before the bottles, cans and containers are tallied — to deposit your refund in the grandmothers’ account.”

“A full 90 percent of money raised will reach the ground in Africa,” Kleinfelder excitedly reported, “that’s better than most charities. And all the groups in Africa are vetted, they don’t just hand the money out.”

She gave the examples that in Uganda $20 pays for a child’s school fees and supplies for the year and in South Africa, $45 will pay for garden seedlings to produce enough vegetables for six months for a family of four. She suggested people shift how they see recyclable cans and bottles. “Rather than empty, see them as full of opportunity for the grandmothers and orphans of Africa.”

The group will host their eighth annual Christmas extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 27 and 28 at the Quality Resort Bayside in Parksville. Watch The NEWS for details.