Paige Purcell

Facebook auction launched for Friends of the Family

Andrea and Paige Purcell are still giving back after Friends of the Family helped with Paige's life-saving surgery in 2012.

An electric toothbrush for kids. A $150 martial arts gift certificate. A poinsettia.

Those are three of the more than 130 things in Andrea Purcell’s Facebook auction in aid of Nelson Friends of the Family. They are all donated by Nelson businesses, and she didn’t have to work hard to get them. In fact many were unsolicited.

“They are just happening. They are coming out of the woodwork,” Purcell says.

A leather backpack made in Argenta. A silver pendant worth $225 retail. The Humans of Nelson BC book.

Facebook seems to be made for auctions. Go to the item, put your bid in the comment section, keep watching to see if someone outbids you, bid again. The auction started Wednesday, the third anniversary of Purcell’s daughter Paige’s surgery, when she was three, to remove a brain tumour.

Bath salts, some fancy tea, backcountry ski rental.

“None of this goes to my family,” Purcell says. She got $600 from Friends of the Family in 2012 to help her get to Vancouver when Paige’s life was in danger, and she’s been raising money for the organization ever since so far, about $7,625, as well as another $9,400 to BC Children’s Hospital and the Make a Wish Foundation.

In the meantime, Paige is doing well.

“She’s better,” Purcell says.

Gift certificates from a muffler shop, a spa, and a paint store.

Nelson Friends of the Family was formed in 2000, and Pat Dooley has been the president ever since. She says they have a budget of about $20,000 per year and have never turned anyone away. Last year they helped 24 families.

The organization supports families of children who have been incapacitated due to illness or an accident before their 19th birthday. The group gives monetary aid for travel and accommodation for medical treatment. To qualify, a family must live in the Nelson area (defined on the group’s website).

A pizza. A haircut. A one-night hotel stay.

“We started in 2000 with two families,” Dooley says. “There were community fundraisers, and we realized how much that support meant to the families. When we started had no guidelines, and over the years we have really nailed it down. It has to be for medical treatment and we fund parking, air fare, Canada Line or taxi, and accommodation although in many cases people stay at Ronald McDonald House.

“I get very emotional about this,” Dooley says. “It is amazing. It is such an important resource in our community because not everyone has a bunch of money sitting in a bank account when you are told your child has to be in Vancouver tomorrow.”

Monetary donations can be made to Friends of the Family on their website at www.nelsonfriendsofthefamily.com.

A mini chocolate fondue, ski goggles, a snowman statue.

Purcell is also on the Friends of the Family board.

“Every month we get two to three applications,” she says. “We accept most of them. It could be cancer, it could be a tumour, or a baby born with hearing defects. It is across the board, you name it.”

Purcell says the need is great and the financial help for families “takes the pressure off. I don’t think people in those situations should have to be concerned about that. Morally it seems wrong to me that they should be struggling.”

Purcell says the idea of local fundraising for local families is powerful.

“We ask for local support, and it stays local,” she says.

The Facebook auction page is called Nelson Friends of the Family Auction Fundraiser. Bidding continues until Nov. 25.

A Mickey Mouse lunch kit, a beer mug, leather boots

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