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Langley food drive hopes to ease burden on Lytton evacuees during winter

Brookswood Baptist Church is collecting donations until Nov. 5
Pamelina Chang, Nicole Lanki and Bethany Jackson recently visited the Siska Indian Band where they helped organize donations at the town hall, which currently serves as a food bank. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

A Langley church community wants to keep the attention on those who were impacted by the Lytton wildfire and have organized a food drive to help evacuees during the winter months.

Brookswood Baptist Church has organized the “Winter is Coming to Siksa Food Drive.” The event is in support of the Siksa Indian Band and surrounding band areas, who are without access to a local grocery story.

“My church has a standing relationship with some residents in Lytton and some of the members of the surrounding band area,” said Pamelina Chang, pastor of youth and community outreach at the Brookswood church.

“The youth and the young adults here have been going to Lytton, for several years in the summers to run summer camps,” she added, noting a camp has not been held in recent years.

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Chang recently returned from the area after dropping off supplies and spoke to local band leaders who she said were concerned about accessing food and household supplies during the winter.

“So we (the church) decided that we would try to host one more big fundraiser and bring up as much supplies as we could, before the winter really sets in and the roads become icy, and rainfall and rocks make it a little harder to travel,” Chang explained.

The community can support the effort by dropping off items or monetary donations at Brookswood Baptist Church (20581 36 Ave.) between Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Nov. 5.

Fleetwood International Church (8250 161 St.) is a second location collecting donations.

Items required include: canned soup, canned vegetables and fruit, flour, baking supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and air freshener, to name a few.

“It would be really nice to have some funds to actually go buy fresh bread and diary for them a few days before we go up,” said Chang, noting those items can’t be donated in advance because they run the risk of spoiling before arriving at their destination.

The community of Siska was evacuated alongside residents of Lytton, Chang explained, and for the most part their homes were spared by the wildfire.

“A good number of people have been able to return to their homes,” she said. “But part of the problem too, now is that a lot of their homes have smoke damage, and that’s why they’re asking for cleaning supplies and for air freshener.”

Volunteers with the church have offered to transport the donated items on Nov. 6.

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“It’s actually been really encouraging [for the youth and young adults with the church] to reconnect with some of the people they haven’t seen in a while, but also, just build relationships,” said Chang.

“The community. [in Siska and the surrounding band area], they’re super appreciative, and they are just so thankful that people are thinking about them still and wanting to help.”

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Brookswood Baptist Church is holding the “Winter is Coming to Siksa Food Drive” from now until Nov. 5 in support of the Siksa Indian Band and surrounding band areas, for residents who were impacted by the Lytton wildfire. (Special to Langley Advance Times)