Move over, Merritt - Surrey might just become the country music capital of B.C.
Food Banks B.C. and JRfm recently stopped at the Central City Plaza to promote the 18th annual Basics for Babies program, which collects diapers, formula, baby food and clothing, among other items, for hundreds of youngsters throughout the province.
"In Surrey, we serve over 250 babies a week," said Feezah Jaffer, manager of client services with the Surrey Food Bank. "We need as many donations as we can get.
"JRfm has been supporting us for many years, and every year, they outdo themselves. The passion that they have for this program, it's really, really great."
Since its inception in 1994, Basics for Babies has raised more than $1.86 million and collected more than 400,000 pounds of diapers, formula, baby food and pabulum.
In a twist from the previous 17 Basics for Babies events, JRfm added a contest to the fundraiser: whichever Lower Mainland community gives the most will receive a free concert in their city next year.
The country music radio station has been touring malls with country musicians throughout the Lower Mainland, including Langley's Willowbrook Shopping Centre, Coquitlam Centre and Abbotsford's Sevenoaks Shopping Centre. Chad Brownlee performed a few songs at Central City's event.
"In past years, we've done just one single Basics for Babies event," said Amanda Panes, a promotions co-ordinator for the station, adding that they used to hold a breakfast at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel. "This year, we wanted to change it up because not everyone could make it out to our event in Surrey.
"This year, we definitely got the community involved. We were so happy with just everyone who came out to our Surrey, Langley, all the other events - but Surrey really blew us away.
"As of right now, it looks like Langley and Surrey could be the winners."
There's one stop left in Vancouver, and the deadline for donations is Dec. 14. Panes said they would like to hold the concert in the summertime, but that depends on the artists' schedules - and the artists are being kept secret for now.
Those interested in giving to Basics for Babies can donate online at jrfm.com/basics-for-babies.