A Coquitlam boy who crafts mini clay Christmas trees got a visit on Sunday (Dec. 19) from the Abbotsford-based search and rescue team for whom he has raised around $3,500.
Gavin King, 8, wanted to do something to help after catastrophic flooding hit Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford in mid-November.
The family has friends who run a turkey farm in Yarrow that was impacted, and the news weighed heavily on Gavin.
He and his mom Aimee do a lot of crafts together. Aimee says it’s a way “to bring out the chatter and calm down at the end of the day.”
One the second night of the floods, they were talking about what had happened, and Gavin happened to craft a mini Christmas tree.
“He announced that he could sell these to help people in the floods,” Aimee said.
They wanted to help the people who were “out there doing the hard work,” and they came across Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue (CFVSAR).
Aimee said they learned that the 28-member team was putting “a ton of resources” into helping people, and they decided to help them in return.
Gavin made several more of the clay trees and then posted them for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Orders came in from throughout the Lower Mainland, as well as from Ontario, Alberta and Prince George, where Aimee is from.
In total, he made and sold 120 trees by donation, raising around $3,500. Aimee, Gavin – decked out in a light-up Christmas sweater – and his little sister Kaitlyn delivered most of the orders in person.
“We have loved hearing from people who are sharing these as Christmas gifts with loved ones and showing us pictures of their trees hanging on their tree at home,” Aimee said. “It’s been a super-amazing experience all round.”
Tim Skidmore of CFVSAR said the team was touched by what Gavin had done for them.
“He lives in Coquitlam and still wanted to do what he could to help. All of us on the team were just floored,” he said.
The team was so appreciative that they decided to visit Gavin in person to thank him. Six members visited his home on Sunday, bringing along two of their vehicles and rescue gear to show Gavin and his friends and family.
Aimee said the family kept the visit a surprise from Gavin, who didn’t know the crew was arriving until about 20 minutes beforehand.
The CFVSAR crew came over the hill with flashing lights, and brought him a thank-you gift.
“He got to set off the sirens, which resulted in the happiest face I’ve ever seen from him. I am so incredibly honoured to be helping a crew that will do something like this for a little kiddo,” Aimee said.
During the flooding, CFVSAR handed out evacuation notices, did wellness checks and performed rescues.
Skidmore said the group will use the money raised by Gavin towards purchasing much-needed gear that was damaged or lost during the flood.
“Our boats took a beating; lights were broken or just lost. Wetsuits need repairing and replacement,” he said.
Gavin’s fundraiser has been paused for now as he catches up on deliveries and finds more clay. But Aimee said they will reopen it “for as long as people are wanting a tree to help our friends at CFVSAR.”
The fundraiser can be found by searching “Eight year old’s flood fundraiser” on Facebook Marketplace.
Donations can also be made directly to CFVSAR online at cfvsar.bc.ca.