Numerous fundraisers seek to aid South Cowichan fire victims

The South Cowichan community is rallying around a Shawnigan Lake family of five who lost their home on May 19.

"Immediately after the fire, we started talking about fundraising," said Celyne Hodges, who lives across Fitzgerald Street from the destroyed home.

Hodges started a GoFundMe. com campaign (gofundme.

com/uzq7n8), which has already raised more that $2,500. Neighbours and the Discovery Elementary School community have also been collecting items, and managed to fill up a garage with donations in a couple of days.

The family recently moved to the Shawnigan Lake area from Saltspring Island so their 13-

year-old son, a goalie, could play hockey, but his gear was lost in the blaze. The Collins family has stepped up, however, with a donation from the Nick Collins memorial trust fund. Also a goalie, Nick died in 2007 at the age of 15 after he was struck by a car.

"They have agreed to replace all of the boy’s goalie equipment," Hodges said. "[The son] plans to do a tribute; he’s going to put Nick’s name on his helmet."

Moo’s Pizza in Cobble Hill did a take-and-bake fundraiser for the family, and Victoria musician Daniel Francis is organizing a concert with several other artists at Sylvan United Church in Mill Bay (tentatively set for June 13) to raise money.

The fire happened just after

5 a.m. on May 19. Hodges and her family were awakened by another neighbour knocking on their door and loud popping noises from the burning house.

"The homes are close together, so we were worried it might start jumping," she said.

The entire family managed to get out of the house safely, along with their dog, but the house was beyond repair.

Earlier this week, they managed to get into part of the house that was still standing and retrieve a few personal items.

Their possessions after the fire, Hodges said, could fit in the back of a pickup truck.

"They left the house without even shirts on their backs," she said. "Their neighbours had to clothe them."

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