From left: Surrey firefighters Aaron Cyr, Dylan Van Rooyen and Dan Kehler show off a tiny taste of the massive amount of food the department’s charitable society hands out. This year, the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society reached a big milestone: It raised $1 million for its charitable initiatives.

VIDEO: Surrey firefighters reach $1 million milestone in giving

For the first time in a single year, the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society raised - and gave out - more than $1 million

‘Tis the season of giving, but for Surrey firefighters, charity is a sentiment held all year round.

And 2018 has proven to be a milestone year for the charitable society, which handed out more than $1 million for the first time.

Those dollars made their way to more than 70 organizations in this city from the YMCA to the Surrey Food Bank to its nutritional snack program that gives out $200,000 of food annually.

“We’ve just recently reached that $1 million,” said Dylan Van Rooyen, a board member of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society. “We were always hovering around the $900,000, or $950,000 (per year). We’re now at that million dollars. In addition we have three capital campaigns ongoing where we’ve decided we would support building a new YMCA in Surrey at $350K, the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation, that’s doing some significant work, at half a million.

“So we’re very proud to report that each and every year we continue to raise more money, and increase the amount of giving.”

Rooyen, who has been a firefighter for nearly a decade, said as first responders, they see “first-hand what the need is in Surrey.”

“Back in 1994, when the founding members decided to organize the charitable society, they decided we need to do more: There’s more we can do aside form just going to the calls, responding and returning back to the hall. We wanted to find a way that we could give back and make a positive impact from young children to our most senior residents,” he remarked.

Firefighter Dan Kehler has been part of the charity’s Nutritional Snack Program for the past 21 years of its existence.

“It started with four schools, and now we’re up to in excess of 130 schools, providing breakfast, snack and lunch items for kids who come with little or nothing,” Kehler told the Now-Leader. “A child who’s focused on hunger isn’t focused on learning so if we can offer that child something to eat so they can focus on reading, writing and arithmetic rather than the hollow feeling in their stomach, than that’s’ what we’re going to do. We’re going to give them a fighting chance, because every kid deserves an opportunity to excel in school.”

This year, $200,000 of food purchased and delivered to Surrey schools.

Just last week, off-duty members met at the Costco in Newton to purchase $25,000 of food for hungry children.

See also: VIDEO: 20 years later, Surrey firefighters’ Nutritional Snack Program needed more than ever

“This program matters so much, not just to me, but so many of our firefighters. To know that children, now, can have a little something to eat, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or a snack during the day, to get through and have a better chance at learning matter a lot to us,” said Kehler.

In addition to that initiative, the society also assists members of the community that have been affected by trauma; raises money for medical health care and research; provides bursaries for community service; and delivers programs that offer “positive life experiences and enhance self-esteem.”

In the last month alone, the society has spent $25,000 on its nutritional snack program, matched $1,000 in donations to Children’s Hospice and spent $6,000 adopting 18 families for Christmas. That’s all in addition to handing out donations to the Burn Fund ($20,000), Muscular Dystrophy Canada ($15,000), and the Surrey Christmas Bureau ($5,000).

Aaron Cyr said the department’s charitable efforts are so top of mind within the department that it even comes up during the interview process.

“In our interview, we’re asking what charitable contribution and what lifestyle they have that contributes to charity, because that’s such a big part of who we are,” said Cyr, who is also a board member of the charitable society. “It’s so much of who we are that we have a payroll deduction plan where over 95 per cent of our members donate to our charitable society in the sum of over $100,000 a year. So we’re practicing what we preach and the money comes out of our pockets to go into our charitable society as well because we believe in what we’re doing.”

Cyr has been involved with the charitable society since day one on the job 11 years ago.

“It’s a great way for every individual in the department to feel proud of what we do and make a different impact, beside just going to calls,” he noted. “We make huge partnerships with people in the city that see the work we do with the charitable society. So they hop on, they encourage us, and also fund a lot of our programs because they see we do a lot of good work.”

To learn more about the society, visit surreyfirefighters.com/charitablesociety.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey man to bike across Canada

Last minute decision to take Rajiv Dhaliwal on three-month journey

White Rock RCMP reviews street checks for racial bias

Report indicates checks are being conducted bias-free

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Surrey rally supports Mona Wang, calls for wellness check reform

Security camera footage shows Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m.

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read