Penticton students and firefighters donate to Burn Fund

Penticton firefighters recently gave $25,000 to the new $13.1 million Burn Fund Centre to be built in Vancouver.

Staff and students from Queen's Park Elementary School with members of Penticton Fire Rescue local at the recent year-end celebration. Through the Me to We program the students were able to raise $2

Staff and students from Queen's Park Elementary School with members of Penticton Fire Rescue local at the recent year-end celebration. Through the Me to We program the students were able to raise $2

Burn victims in the province got a double shot in the arm courtesy of two local groups.

Members of the BC Professional Fire Fighters local from Penticton recently gave $25,000 to the new $13.1 million Burn Fund Centre to be built in Vancouver.

The other donation was a cheque for $2,300 raised by a small group of Grade 4 and 5 students from Queen’s Park Elementary which will pay for a young burn victim to go to the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters burn camp this summer.

According to Tina Myers of Queen’s Park, who, along with two other staff members oversaw the fundraising efforts of the kids, it all began last October when the students got involved in the Me to We program.

The objective of that organization is transforming people into world changers, one action and one experience at a time for the betterment of the participants, their communities and the world.

Their initial project was to get food donations in support of the Penticton food bank. They managed to bring in over 250 items.

Then it was on to the challenge of raising the money for the camp trip.

“Our goal was to get the $2,000 and at first I thought it was more than we could raise but we decided we’ll do what ever we could in what ever time we had,” said Myers. “But these kids were awesome. We had a really good solid group, who showed up for meetings, showed up for volunteering and did what they had to.

“I mean that’s what its all about. It’s about kids becoming aware and just taking the initiative to make changes by themselves.”

Bottle and penny drives along with raffle prizes at the Christmas concert helped raise the funds.

Also as part of their experience they learned a little about the burn camp and the support provided to help those who are dealing with the emotional and physical trauma they’ve experienced.

According to Myers, the awareness the program has created within the school has caught the attention of other students and she expects even more interest next year.

“These kids really dedicated themselves, getting past the me part to the we part and that’s what it’s all about,” she said.

Meanwhile, the money from the Penticton firefighters for the new centre was part of nearly $900,000 given by other locals in the province.

When complete it will provide eight, short-term stay units to meet the serious shortfall in appropriate accommodation for burn and trauma patients, their family or caregivers.

“We’re so grateful that the fire fighters in Penticton have shown such leadership in helping us meet this critical need,” said Mike Hurley, president of the Burn Fund. “We’ve seen firsthand that helping with accommodation for burn and trauma survivors and their families can be one of the most significant contributions to help survivors physically and emotionally recover and live a full life.”

He added patients’ health may be compromised when they have to return home sooner than medically advised or live in accommodations not suited to recovery from a burn or trauma.

Each year almost 700 children and adults from across the province are admitted to the BCPFF Burn, Plastic and Trauma Unit at Vancouver General Hospital and B.C. Children’s Hospital. About a third of those are from outside the Lower Mainland and more than half of those are having to pay for private accommodation for an average of eight weeks.

Fire officials say the situation has reached the critical stage and the centre is badly needed. The Burn Fund has so far secured 80 per cent of the necessary amount.