The Northern Lights Wildlife Society’s largest fundraiser of the year kicked off this weekend and is quickly gaining support from people all around the world.
The Dawson’s Lights fundraiser is an online event that raises money for the society to help with release costs, feeding the 32 black and grizzly bear cubs they currently have in residence, and preparing for the cubs that will come to the shelter in the spring.
As part of the fundraiser, there is a tree outside the Smithers Feed Store; for every $25 donation, a light bulb on the tree will be lit with the goal of lighting up the entire tree by Christmas.
“It’s become something really magical at Christmas time,” said Angelika Langen, owner and operator of the shelter.
“It’s a thank you to people who have been supporting us all year by lighting up the tree.”
There are also contests on the event’s Facebook page where people from all over the world have donated prizes, such as ornaments, books, gift baskets and paintings from as far away as Italy and Germany.
“There are lot of people locally and internationally who get into it, which makes it lots of fun,” said Langen.
The event started four years ago when Dawson, a cub from Dawson Creek, was brought to the shelter.
“He was a real character and we were sure he was going to live if he could just get some help,” said Dorothy Avery, who originally came up with the idea. “He was a fighter.”
In its first year, they raised $5,000, of which $3,500 was put toward a radio collar to keep track of Dawson; they also lit a small tree outside the Langen house.
“Dawson was set free the year after and as far as we know, he’s living a fun and great life,” said Avery.
Since then, the event has grown in popularity. Last year, the society raised $20,000 and this year, they’re hoping to match or surpass that goal.
“It would be really nice if we could repeat last year,” laughed Langen, adding they hope to use the money to purchase another radio collar to put on one of the cubs and get more information about how they do after they’re released into the wild.
The fundraiser runs until Dec. 24. For more information or to donate, go to www.wildlifeshelter.com or visit the Facebook event page called Dawson’s Lights.