Families in the Cariboo Chilcotin who had babies during the summer’s wildfires are reaching out to support one of their own this Christmas.
“Right now we are all coming together to sponsor one family in particular,” said Amy Emery who started a 2017 Fire Babies Group on Facebook in August.
Read More: 150 Mile mom starts fire baby group
“I reached out to everyone and asked if anyone needed extra help for the holidays. Everyone seemed to be fine except for one family and that’s the family we are trying to help.”
Emery said the family they are helping has a fire baby daughter, a three-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son.
“One woman donated a pack for the mom and baby that has a company in town,” Emery said. “I also received a $25 gift card from Save-On-Foods. I am accepting cash or gift cards for the family.”
Emery also baked cupcakes to fundraise for the family and sold them at the annual Baby Fest held at the Cariboo Memorial Complex in the Gibraltar Room in November where 124 babies born in 2017 participated.
Organizers LeRae Haynes, community co-ordinator with Succes by Six said the numbers were up from the year before.
“We had 89 babies last year,” Haynes said.
Emery said she raised $120 through the cupcake sale.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Emery livs at 150 Mile House with her family.
In July they evacuated to Prince George, and she ended up giving birth in the hospital there.
“I made jokes after our son Carver Emery was born in Prince George, saying all the little fire babies should get together when they get older and start a rock band,” Emery said. “After that I started thinking about all the people that did have babies and seeing posts on Facebook and thought we should actually start a group and get together.”
Today the group has 31 “evacuated” babies, she said.
In September, Williams Lake photographer, Laureen Carruthers, offered to take a group photograph of the babies.
The moms and babies attended a photo shoot at her studio on Friday, where she which photographed the babies in groups and then stitched the photographs together to create a panoramaic photo that included all of them.
Carruthers didn’t charge the moms, but asked for donations, which she sent to the 4 Paws food bank in Kamloops who provided 24-hour daycare for pets belonging to evacuees and to Amy Sarnowski who stayed behind in Williams Lake during the wildfire evacuations to help with animals.
In the end, Carruthers made 35 copies of the photograph, including one for the maternity Cariboo Memorial Hospital and one she will be giving to Dr. Sky Raffard for her office in the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Cariboo Memorial Hospital.
Carruthers also created a fire calendar featuring photographs she took during the summer’s wildfires.
By the middle of December sale of the calendars had raised more than $5,000, which Carruthers is donating to various charities, including the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre’s Wish Breakfast, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, the Canadian Mental Health Association and some local volunteer fire departments to name a few.
Aside from continuing to see what they can do to help each other, Emery said the fire babies group hopes to eventually be able to do things for the community at large.
“It will be just little things here and there because I don’t want to overwhelm anyone,” she aid. “We are all new moms and so we try to keep in contact and raise each other’s spirits when we need to, make each other laugh and give each other advice.”