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College Heights student helps Monte Lake students get back to school after devastating fire

Arianna Laley is very aware of B.C. wildfires and the devastation they leave in their wake. Her mother, Aimy, is involved with Northern Fires, a volunteer group that shares information about wildfires.

So the College Heights Secondary School student is very familiar with wildfires, particularly the devastating fire at Monte Lake in the Okanagan this summer.

“I’ve been watching my mom do fire watch for years, so when I heard about Monte Lake I knew I had to do something,” she said.

So she did. She started a fundraiser to collect school supplies for Monte Lake students who, she knew, would be heading back to school even though the community had been ravaged by fire.

“I saw a post on Facebook asking for supplies for the adults, like gas, food, and clothes and stuff like that,” she said. “I thought about school coming up and felt the kids who lived in Monte Lake were going to need school supplies.”

She asked her mother if she could start a fundraiser for the kids in Monte Lake and things took off from there. She put a post out on Facebook trying to get the word out and it quickly started getting shared on social media. Soon school supplies such as binders, pencil crayons, backpacks, lunch kits, rulers, paper, scissors and more started coming in.

Even though Arianna is here in Prince George, initially lots of the donations came from people in the Okanagan, closer to Monte Lake. However, as word spread, donations started coming in from afar … all across B.C. and even as far away as California.

“We redirected lots of it to the school,” she said. “We thought it would be easier to send it directly to the school. We received enough supplies for 21 kids. I was really happy and grateful to find out other people decided they were going to help out Monte Lake as well.”

One of the teachers at the school contacted her and expressed their gratitude for the help.

“Their library was full of clothes and toys and stuff for the kids,” she said. “She said the kids are incredibly happy.”

It has definitely been a learning experience for Arianna.

“Everyone can make a difference, no matter how old,” she said.

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