The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) and the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB) were three of more than 30 real estate boards and associations across Canada that participated in REALTORS Care® Week 2020 by supporting local homelessness-related organizations on behalf of their members. These three boards representing REALTORS® across the Lower Mainland of British Columbia adapted their approach to their longstanding REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive in the face of the pandemic and continued to make an impact for their partner charities.
In a traditional year, more than 18,000 REALTORS® across the Lower Mainland would work closely with their colleagues, clients and communities to collect blankets and gently-used warm clothing and distribute these donations to local charity partners. As planning for the 26th Annual REALTORS Care® Blanket Drive got underway in mid-2020, organizers at REBGV and FVREB heard from their partner charities that while they did not want in-kind donations due to COVID-19 safety concerns, they still needed support. As a result, REBGV and FVREB pivoted their approach for 2020, temporarily rebranded the Blanket Drive as a Charity Drive, and started organizing an online fundraising campaign for November 23-30.
“The pandemic has been devastating for our partner charities and the vulnerable people they help. The resources at their disposal are down and the need from the people they serve is up,” said Colette Gerber, REBGV Chair. “This is why our REALTOR® community came together to help our partner charities overcome these challenges.”
REBGV and FVREB set a goal of raising $15,000 online and were blown away by the generosity of their members. When all was said and done, $50,000 had been raised and distributed to more than 50 local housing-related charities.
“The support and enthusiasm this year was amazing. Our donation page received many comments from REALTORS® saying that the pandemic isn’t going to stop the profession from helping the people they’ve helped for 26 years, the fundraiser was a great way to give back, and more,” said Chris Shields, FVREB President. “To everyone who supported the campaign this year, a warm, socially distanced thank you. We hope to help even more people next year.”
Based on input received from their local partner charities and with approval of the Public Health Authority, CADREB decided to go ahead with collecting blankets and warm clothing in a physically-distanced way. CADREB organized three drive-through collection events on November 21, 2020, in Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope, British Columbia. REALTOR® volunteers at these three locations collected a total of more than 510 large bags of blankets and warm clothes as well as 60 boxes of non-perishable food items. These donations were then distributed to charities in the communities where they were collected.
“Volunteers remained physically distanced and it was like a shot in the arm to see the line-up of vehicles in support of those who needed the extra help during these times,” said Kim Parley, CADREB President. “Seeing that container being filled to overflowing was a testament to how important the Blanket Drive is for everyone.”