ASHCROFT, B.C. — Over the summer thousands of B.C. residents came together to help those who were displaced by the worst wildfire season on record.
Fire Departments worked tirelessly through the tense summer moths, ensuring the safety of their local communities.
Ashcroft and Cache Creek were among the first communities to be threatened by the unpredictable Elephant Hill wildfire this summer, the same fire that leveled Boston Flats and grew in size to more than 190,000 hectares.
During one of the darkest seasons for the area 11-year-old Khiara Archibald of Ashcroft was a beacon of light.
"I decided to give back to the fire departments, because the firefighters worked very hard for us to keep us all safe and keep all our houses and buildings all safe," she said.
In August, Khiara began selling bracelets, lemonade, and #BCSTRONG items to raise money for the Ashcroft and Cache Creek fire departments.
Thanks to a $4,000 top-up from Interior Savings, Khiara raised $6,000, splitting the funds between the two departments.
"We realized during the fire season we were without power for about 30 hours here," said Ashcroft Fire Chief Josh White. "What we need is an on-site generator, piped into natural gas, and so some of that money we're hoping we're going to be putting towards off-setting some of the costs of that purchase."
During the cheque presentation at the Ashcroft Fire Hall, Khiara was surprised with an award from the premier.
"I got the Above and Beyond Award from John Horgan, and it's very cool .... I wasn't, even expecting to be on T.V. or in a newspaper," Khiara said, "I just wanted to help."
It was that giving spirit that inspired Karma Kubbernus at the Ashcroft Interior Savings to get involved.
"The branch itself had some money left in its community investment fund to give out, so I reached out to my staff and said, 'do you think this is a good one for us to support?' And that was $500," Kubbernus said. "So, we did that right away, and then when corporate heard what we were doing they had me put her onto our larger community investment fund."
As a show of thanks, the Ashcroft Fire Department took Khiara for a ride on one of their newest engines.
Khiara's generous donation has brought a sense of joy to the two fire halls as this difficult year comes to a close.
"It gives me a resurgence in thinking that the future generations coming down the line are going to be a great group of people," White said. "They're not all playing video games all the time, and they're not just all locked in their rooms. They're out, they're community conscious, and it's people like that that are going to help us persevere and keep going on."
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