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Oak Bay firefighters focus fundraising efforts on kids in sport, art, music

‘We have a misconception about Oak Bay … families are feeling the restraints’
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Oak Bay firefighters are focusing on fundraising to help families keep kids in activities, says Trent Frenkel, executive director of Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Residents in Oak Bay and beyond are familiar with firefighters holding boots outside grocery stores to raise cash for a worthy cause.

The generations-long boot campaign to support Muscular Dystrophy Canada is among the more recognizable initiatives of firefighters across the nation. Locally, Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation has raised funds for folks in the neighbourhood and across the province.

The organization gained official charitable status in 2012 and hit the ground running.

They’re part of ongoing aid to the Professional Firefighters’ Burn Fund and seven remaining years in the current 10-year commitment (alongside other departments in the region) to raise $250,000 for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. In Oak Bay, the membership has donated to Oak Bay Sea Rescue, built and installed a bike station, supported one-off fundraisers such as the outdoor classroom at Monterey and supported the longstanding Greater Victoria holiday initiative Santas Anonymous. Other annual hyper local causes include endowments to the Carnarvon Ball Club and four Oak Bay High bursaries.

RELATED: Firefighters donate $25K to Victoria General Hospital

To fund those initiatives, members have organized events such as Sausage Fest and a couple 24-hour relays running laps in turnout gear at the Jack Wallace Memorial Track. The first in 2020 included four fire departments and raised $10,000 for a variety of charities, including KidSport.

What stands out for executive director Trent Frenkel, is that Oak Bay Firefighters doesn’t have its own long-term program.

So they’re looking to create one.

“A program that provides funding with families for youth,” Frenkel said.

The goal is to get youth into activities outside school, such as sports, arts and music.

A prime example is building on the work done by KidSport, which provides registration fees for youth. But every sport includes other expenses, such as gear.

“We have a misconception about Oak Bay … families are feeling the restraints,” Frenkel said. “We see it on calls ... it’s a world not a lot of people get to see.”

RELATE: Firefighters give big to pediatrics at Victoria General Hospital

Now, the charitable foundation looks to build a fund it can draw from, and generate enough funds to support it continuously.

To get off the ground, the team is working to post a raffle targeting three huge prizes that include travel packages with activities.

In the early stages, they’re applying for a gaming licence and holding that boot out in hopes of collecting some big-time prizes.

Learn more about initiatives and find contact information online at facebook.com/oakbayfirefighters.



Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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