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Community Matters

A Very Special #AlbertaStrong Birthday Party

July 1st, 2016

By Chris Reeve

My daughter recently joined Canadian Model Miss, which is a pageant and development program that focuses on inner beauty and being a role model for more than outer beauty, as traditional “pageants” do. We went to one or two events prior to my daughter asking to join, then we did it, and I’ve come to see the amazing support the families show each other all around Alberta. With recent events, a few members’ delegate families were forced from their homes. One family lost their house and the day they after they were evacuated was their daughter’s birthday. The Director of CMM, Brittanee, put a call out to all of us, letting us know about the situation. She also shared she was helping a family close to her on her neighbourhood community page, looking for bottles. This started it all.

She was inundated by people offering up their cans and bottles. The delegate families rallied together to find a spot for the little girl to celebrate her birthday, someone took on baking a cake, we all got on buying her presents to make her day special – this girl had nothing left. The Toy Hutch opened its doors for the party – at no charge. So many presents and a team of moms who took on decorating.

Being new to the group, I wasn’t sure what to expect pulling up with our gifts, other than I knew I’d be crying soon – that’s just me. We had also gathered together some bottles from friends and grabbed a couple gift cards for both families to contribute to what the Director had been pulling together.

The kids ran in and started having fun and I was introduced to a few people while we waited for the guest of honour. Mom, Dad and the little girl arrived to warm greetings and hugs. I had never met them before but I asked if I could hug mom and was very grateful she let me. The tears pretty much started coming at that point but as they told us the tale of their evacuation, they flowed. The mom stuck in traffic for 45 minutes trying to get to the school where her daughter was and explained later, as they escaped the city, the flames being so close at one point her passenger window was hot to the touch. We all sat down while the kids played and tried to talk about other things, now was a time for celebration and trying to think about something else – just for a little while. A tv up in the far corner was quickly powered off when a review of what the harrowing day had saw came on.

When present time came, all the kids gathered around the birthday girl, as you’ll see at other birthday parties on any other day. The difference today was mom, armed with her phone to take video, crying tears of gratefulness with every book, toy, piece of clothing, set of shoes, her little girl opened. When Ariel came,  I saw her sob – this was her daughter's favourite princess and you could see in her face that she couldn’t believe the thoughtfulness of the CMM group. My heart just about burst and I was bawling right along with her.

Ariel gave the little girl a gift at one point, a stuffed Ariel and she tried to give it back to her. Ariel quickly said “No, no, that’s for you to take home”, the little girl replied “I can’t , I don’t have a home” The few of us that heard couldn’t stop the tears, and Ariel – being Ariel said “Well, I mean your home in Edmonton” handling it perfectly. But a little piece of all our hearts broke. Kids being kids, she thanked Ariel for coming, and went right back to playing with her friends – old ones and new.

We ate cake, we hugged some more, talked some more, then said our goodbyes and well wishes, of course reiterating that if they needed anything all they had to do was ask.

At the point I’m writing this the Director of CMM has raised over $2,000 for the two families just through the bottle collection and general donations. I know this group will continue to do everything we can, just like every other Albertan and Canadian showing their support for this tragedy. I’m proud to be an Edmontonian and I don’t know if that family will ever know what it meant for us to be able to help on such a personal level, not to mention be part of their little girls party.

Chris is a WAHM to two, one girl, one boy, who loves reading, catching up on Netflix after the kids go to bed and a great glass of red wine.

Tags: charity

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