Charley Urquhart used her birthday weekend to sell her art and collect more than $1,000 for the Comox Valley Food Bank. Photo supplied

Comox Valley birthday girl raises more than $1,000 for food bank

Six-year-old Charley Urquhart created art to sell to friends, family and neighbours

When Charley Urquhart insisted on bringing a donation to the Comox Valley Food Bank in a jar Wednesday, it came as a complete surprise as to how much exactly was inside.

“Charley whispered in their ear how much it was, and they said ‘okay.’ Then another person said: ‘wait, $1,000?’ It was great,” explained Charley’s mom Zoe Urquhart.

The six-year-old Comox girl spent last weekend celebrating her birthday, but rather than celebrating her day, she spent the weekend selling art and collecting donations for those in need.

“Last Friday (May 15), Charley asked to go upstairs to do some arts and crafts,” said Urquhart. “On this particular day, she came downstairs a little while after with a cardboard box, a stack of drawings, and a sign that said one dollar on it. She asked if I would take her outside to the front yard so she could set up a booth to sell her drawings for a dollar and she would use the money to help people and kids who don’t have any money or food.”

Urquhart noted she doesn’t know where Charley got the idea from but added she had used the food bank years ago, and her daughter agreed on that organization in which to raise funds.

“We had not discussed it previously and I was pretty surprised at how much she had thought this out. I thought she might sit outside for an hour and get bored, and maybe raise a bit of change from our neighbours, but she was really determined to make this her weekend project.”

Charley told Urquhart at the beginning her goal was a thousand dollars. She told her daughter to not set her sights too high.

RELATED: COVID-19 threatens food security of low-income Canadians

The first day, Charley spent about two hours outside selling photos to neighbours and passersby. She raised about $16.

On Saturday – her birthday – despite the cold and rain, she was determined to find a way to have her drawings and donation jam jar outside. Eventually, after setting up a small tent and waterproofing signs, Charley sat in a lawn chair with an umbrella in the rain for more than two hours and raised an additional $165.

On May 18, Charley asked if Urquhart could make a message on social media to friends letting them know about the initiative and asking them to drop by. She also asked her dad, who lives in Vancouver, to help spread the message to friends.

“Much to my surprise, again, people came and on top of that, people we knew from Vancouver, Banff, the Comox Valley, and other parts of Vancouver Island, started sending e-transfers. Everyone just felt so inspired with what she was trying to do and by how at such a small age she was more focused on the fundraiser for her birthday than on her gifts.”

Following a few more donations Wednesday, Charley raised a total of $1,077 – enough to feed 130 people through the food bank for a month, she was told.

“It felt really good,” said Charley after her donation. “I really like to draw rainbows, clouds, hearts, flowers and cherries. It was really fun; thank you to everyone who gave and sent money.”

RELATED: Teen’s delivery service raising money for Comox Valley Food Bank

Urquhart said the fundraiser shows how even someone small can come up with a great idea.

“Sometimes you have got to take that leap and have faith. The more love we pay forward, the more love comes back, and in these times, it is this kind of love and togetherness that will see us through.”

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