Friends bring holiday to Lake Cowichan fire victim

It was community spirit with a capital "C".

It had been a dark and stormy night, more clouds were threatening to chase away the few patches of blue sky and the grass was soaked last Sunday morning but that didn’t stop them.

A crowd of enthusiastic volunteers descended on a quiet corner of Hemlock Avenue to decorate a new Lake Cowichan Lions Christmas House for Eileen Pilkington and her family after their iconic South Shore Road home burned down during a storm on Nov. 6.

She was away at church and many of her friends in the community had conspired to bring lights and decorations to a work bee at her place while she was out of the house. Emails and posts on Facebook had talked of the "secret" event, urging everyone to join the effort, talking about what was needed and where to drop it off.

By 10 a.m. Sunday, the crew was at work.

Tamara McDonald and Chris Lehmann Thompson were among those marshalling on the ground.

Mayor Ross Forrest and other intrepid climbers were up ladders attaching strings of lights and decorations, while others were bringing boxes or even more decorations and helping out from ground level.

Good cheer was in the air.

“We talked about having a fundraiser but then we thought of this. It will mean so much more right now. And she did so much for the community. It’s time to help her,” Thompson said.

An enthusiastic member of the Lions Club, Pilkington and her family decorated their house to the nines every year and opened it to raise money for the club, and

also for muscular dystrophy.

By 11 a.m. she was home and friend Darlene Weberg-Pohn shared on Facebook, “I just saw a very happy lady at 49 Hemlock! I drove by and she was just getting home. She said, ‘There’s lights!!’ so happy, she was lit up.”

There still is a fundraiser scheduled to help the family replace their lost treasures. It will be held Wednesday, Dec. 3 from 4-8 p.m. at Jakes at the Lake. Tickets are $20 each. Contact Tamara McDonald through Facebook to reserve them or get your them at Home Hardware and Irly Bird in Lake Cowichan.