The mission of two Vancouver Island women to give struggling forestry workers a helping hand has taken on a life of its own.
Rona Doucette and Tamara Meggitt started Loonies For Loggers in September, to show their support to the families on Vancouver Island impacted by the forestry workers strike.
The impasse between Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-1937 is approaching the six-month mark.
Since they went on the picket lines on Canada Day, forestry workers have been struggling to make ends meet.
Doucette, from Woss, and Meggitt, from Royston, were there for the workers and their families, nearly from the beginning.
They’ve raised roughly $80,000 since their first fundraiser on Sept. 24.
The funds are going to food and Christmas hampers for families up and down the island, as well as in places such as Powell River.
And Doucette said they aren’t done yet.
“We’re doing the Christmas hampers this week, and then after we’re going to be back to doing food deliveries to these communities,” she said.
“So if the strike continues, we’ll still be doing food deliveries to the previous communities we were delivering to before we started with the Christmas hampers.”
Doucette knows first hand, the struggles these families are going through.
“I grew up in logging and I remember the strike of ’86, and how devastating that one was,” she said. “Tamara and I were just, ‘we need to do something,’ and it just snowballed from there.”
Over four months, they held food drives, and they held events, including the first one at Roy’s Towne Pub in Royston.
The first three fundraising events enabled them to buy food to start delivering up and down the island.
They’ve been using Meggitt’s horse trailer to deliver the food. Donated ‘Loonies for Loggers’ signs adorn both sides of the trailer.
“Yeah, people see us coming,” Doucette said.
Doucette is quick to point out that she and Meggitt aren’t doing this alone.
“We have had amazing support from the businesses here on the island. They have gone out, they have bought toys, (and) they’ve brought them to us. Tippin (Point) Contracting and Kram (Industries)… the two of them have been phenomenal, just with toys that they have donated that they brought to us,” Doucette said.
“Right now, Tamara actually has the Tippin (Point) Contracting trailer on her property and it is stuffed full of toys.”
Seeing how much the communities have rallied behind the cause, gets Doucette emotional.
“A day doesn’t go by that Tamara and I are not in tears because of the generosity of the people, the communities, the businesses… we’ve had donations come in across the province, and as far (away as) back east, where we’ve had e-transfers come through,” she said.
“We’ve had e-transfers come through from people where it’s just like, ‘Okay, who set this one up?’ We don’t know. People are finding us and they’re just sending us money. It’s just been phenomenal and I’m getting all emotional talking about it.”
Meanwhile, Doucette said the forestry families are hurting, financially and emotionally.
“That’s the other emotional aspect, is when we’re delivering the food and talking to the families,” she said.
“The phone calls that we’ve received… it is heartbreaking. Very heartbreaking.”
Christmas hamper deliveries start today in Woss, Sayward, Campbell River, and Courtenay.
They plan to deliver more hampers in Powell River on Wednesday.
For more on Loonies For Loggers, click here.