The Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society is learning how to adapt in this new COVID-19 era.
Charitable society board director Dylan Van Rooyen said the society will have to modify “to continue the momentum that we have.”
Earlier on in the pandemic, Van Rooyen said the society was looking at up to a $250,000 donation shortfall as a “worst-case budget.”
At the time, Van Rooyen said the society is “very event-based,” with their strength in hosting events “that people want to come to where we can get them to part with the money and then donate it to a good cause.”
A few events had to be cancelled, but the society looked at ways to modify other events while also coming up with new fundraising initiatives.
And with that, he said the society has “almost caught back up.”
On a yearly basis, Van Rooyen said, the society donates about $1 million back into the community.
In total, that’s about 50 groups and 86 initiatives that benefit from the society.
“It’s way better than we were expecting,” Van Rooyen noted, adding that they got some personal donations in addition to their new initiatives.
“We’re still definitely short of what we were in years past in our event cancellations, but with some of those donations and the raffle one was a new one for us, the mask was a new one for us, I would say, to date, we’ve almost caught back up.”
One of the new initiatives was a vehicle raffle, in partnership with Surrey Honda, which donated a 2020 CRV to the charitable society. The goal was to raise $100,000 by selling 5,000 tickets before the July 1 deadline; 4,000 of the tickets were sold by early May.
Another initiative was mask sales.
“We ordered 500 thinking we’d maybe sell a couple hundred and maybe have some extra on hand and we sold out the 500 in, I think, two days. That one took off on us for sure.”
Van Rooyen said that generated about $10,000, and the society is still getting calls about masks.
The charitable society is planning to sell more masks, but at its Community Thrift Store that it runs in partnership with the Surrey Hospice Society.
“It was a little hard to manage because of the demand and we sold out quickly and the emails started flooding in. We’re actually going to place an order and get some more masks logo’d and we’re going to sell them in person at our thrift store, explained Van Rooyen.
“The idea is, one, we’re still selling the mask, but two, if we can generate some more foot traffic into our thrift store, so the customers who may never have walked in or may not have ever realized we have that store there.”
He said the hope is to generate some additional revenue for the thrift store, which was closed for about three months at the start of the pandemic.
Van Rooyen previously told the Now-Leader that the store, located at 7138 King George Blvd. in Newton, usually brings in about $100,000 for the two societies, so the closure was a hard hit.
It has since reopened, which he said was “a big one for us.”
“The first day was $2,400 in sales, which is typically special event kind of revenue generator there. Obviously it was a special event considering the store had been closed for three months.”
Looking ahead, the society is focused on its upcoming charity golf tournament in September and to the boot drive in the fall.
“Initially, we said if we could make $10,000 out of the $100,000 that we usually make, that’s $10,000 we don’t have. It looks like we’re on track to probably come in around $75,000. That is $25,000 less, but again, at one point when we spoke there, it almost looked like that was going to be a zero.”
Meantime, people can donate to the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society through its website, surreyfirefighters.com/charitablesociety.