South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Ritu Khanna and restaurateur Vikram Vij were among those helping flood victims through donations at My Shanti’s Diwali Celebration Dinner Nov. 22. Alex Browne photo

South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Ritu Khanna and restaurateur Vikram Vij were among those helping flood victims through donations at My Shanti’s Diwali Celebration Dinner Nov. 22. Alex Browne photo

Peninsula businesses step up to help victims of B.C. floods

My Shanti event, JRG group assisting with food drive

Peninsula businesses – and the South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce – are stepping up to help provide non-perishable food items and meals for victims of the recent flooding in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and other communities of the Fraser Valley.

Monday’s (Nov. 22) sold-out Diwali Dinner Celebration held at Vikram Vij’s My Shanti Restaurant at Morgan Crossing filled five boxes with non-perishable foods donated by patrons, in an initiative set up by the chamber, the event’s co-sponsor.

Vij noted he is also doing his part helping evacuees with a financial contribution to Abbotsford-area gurdwaras (Sikh temples) which will in turn donate to the Abbotsford Community Centre and local food banks in the area.

He added that he was pleased by the overwhelming response to the Diwali event, the first staged by My Shanti – and the first of a series of dinner events at various venues that will be promoted by the chamber – and glad that through the generosity of participants, they would also be providing food donations for those in need.

“I’m humbled, and honoured,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ryan Moreno, the CEO of the Joseph Richard Group (JRG), is collecting food items through the group’s The Henry Public House in Cloverdale (for information check jrg.ca), and also making meals for delivery to Chilliwack and Abbotsford in coming days.

Moreno said the group’s project started informally as a response to the needs of victims, noting that JRG also has venues out in the valley, including the Ledgeview Golf and Country Club in Abbotsford, where it operates the events space.

“We reached out, like many others, when we saw all these people being displaced,” he said. “Like everyone, we wanted to make sure that people were OK.”

Moreno said he was amazed at the immediate response from patrons when the group posted lists of items that were needed, including blankets, clothing and non-perishable food items.

“We said we’re going to be going out there to deliver food, and anyone who wants to dump any of that kind of stuff off here, we’ll take it out.

“We got so much stuff, in terms of clothing and non-perishables, and around $2,000 in cash donations which we also used to buy food. We had a team of around 17 of us in total. By last Friday we’d made 2,500 to 3,000 meals – salads, soups and chilis – and filled two vans with non-perishables to be distributed to people in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

“It’s awesome – very refreshing,” he added. “It’s nice to see such a response from the community, with everyone coming together to help.”

Moreno said the effort is ongoing with meals being custom-made to fit the call from various sites in the affected area, and that groups helping had also offered to pay for catering for volunteer workers.

“We said we’re not billing you for that,” he noted, adding that JRG is continuing to monitor where help is needed.

“The needs change from day to day,” he said.

The chamber is also encouraging the public to donate to organizations directly involved in relief efforts, including the BC Search and Rescue Association (bcsara.com/donate/), the Red Cross (donate.redcross.ca) and the SPCA (spca.bc.ca).

Also active in fundraising for flood victims is a team from the University of the Fraser Valley, which, in collaboration with Abbotsford Community Foundation and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, have established the Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund to support the frontline agencies helping families and businesses in need.

Donations can be made to abbotsfordcf.org/disaster

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