Rebecca Bollwitt models a “West Whalley Jr. High” T-shirt sold to raise funds for the Women of Options project. (submitted photo)

Rebecca Bollwitt models a “West Whalley Jr. High” T-shirt sold to raise funds for the Women of Options project. (submitted photo)

Miss 604’s ‘Surrey Nostalgia’ merch boosts Options’ $1.5M housing fundraiser

‘This project evokes nostalgia but it also gives back,’ blogger Rebecca Bollwitt says

With 50 Surrey-area women each tasked with raising $25,000 to build and furnish an affordable housing project in Newton, Rebecca Bollwitt got nostalgic.

For her fundraiser, the Surrey-raised “Miss 604” blogger created a “Surrey Nostalgia Collection” of T-shirts and other merchandise, in partnership with MAKE Vancouver.

Items sold include “West Whalley Jr. High” hoodies, “Rodeo Drive-In” baseball shirts, “Surrey Place Mall” coffee mugs and water bottles, and more, with details posted to westwhalley.com.

It’s part of Options Community Services’ “Women of Options” project (womenofoptions.ca) to raise $1.5 million in support of a new 100-unit housing project at 81st Avenue and King George Boulevard, in celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary.

Launched in February, the campaign harnesses the fundraising power of 50 “influential South Fraser women” for a few months, ending June 30.

• READ MORE: Options launches campaign to raise $1.5M for housing project in Surrey.

Bollwitt says she wanted to come up with a unique fundraiser that shows her Surrey pride.

“I went to West Whalley, where in hindsight being an editor of the school yearbook gave me skills I still use today,” noted Bollwitt, who now lives in Vancouver.

“Likewise, I worked at Surrey Place Mall, where I learned the basics of customer service, which is also still very helpful with my career. Working on community projects has always been a passion of mine and I attribute that to the caring, diverse, and inclusive community I grew up in. This project evokes nostalgia but it also gives back.”

Bollwitt says 25 per cent of proceeds from purchases in the collection will be donated to Options Community Services, a registered charity with 88 programs that helped more than 100,000 people last year in Surrey, Delta, White Rock and Langley.

• RELATED STORY, from 2019: Surrey-raised blogger marks 15 years of Miss604.com with a party for charity.

The other “Women of Options” are raising money in many different ways, including personal donations, gift cards, silent auction, painting classes and even doughnut sales. The fundraising women include Anita Huberman, Judy Higginbotham, Dianne Watts, Michele Partridge, Louise McNight, Nira Arora, Karen Huang, Raj Arneja, Penny Priddy and dozens of others listed on womenofoptions.ca.

• RELATED STORY: Gift-card fundraiser to benefit Surrey affordable-housing project.

“It’s pretty great to be working with all of these really creative women,” said Ginny Hasselfield, Options’ Director of Development.

“To date we have almost 1,000 new donors as a result of the efforts of the Women of Options. Of these over 150 donors have given us $1,000 or more.

Looking ahead, Options plans to host a virtual 50th-anniversary gala in November, “and hopefully tie up any fundraising loose ends,” Hasselfield said. “We will be doing a Mexican Fiesta live from Hugo’s Mexican Kitchen in Surrey. Gordon Hogg will emcee and the door prize will be an all inclusive trip to Mexico.”

She said organizers of the fundraising campaign are thrilled to have so many people from the South Fraser and other parts of B.C. supporting the cause.

“The Women of Options campaign was conceived during COVID times when face-to-face meetings were out of the question,” Hasselfield noted. “These 50 women and their supporters can say they have made a real difference in someone’s life. They have enabled us to fulfill our commitments to BC Housing and have furthered the cause of providing supportive and affordable housing to the vulnerable people in this community.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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