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'Love for Lilee' bottle drive raises more than $5,000 in Abbotsford

A fundraiser to help a couple struggling with their baby daughter's serious illness raised more than $5,000 over the weekend in Abbotsford.

Most of those funds – about $3,500 – were from a bottle drive held Saturday by Regional Recycling. The remainder is from an account open at the company's five locations, where the public can donate the proceeds from their recyclables.

All the money is going to support Chilliwack's Andrew Putt and Chelsey Whittle, who are unable to work while their one-year-old daughter, Lilee-Jean, undergoes treatment for aggressive brain cancer.

Whittle's friend, Candace Martyn of Abbotsford, has been among those collecting bottles. Regional Recycling stepped in after it was reported that about $300 worth of bottles had been stolen from Martyn's property on Nov. 15.

The company organized a community-wide bottle drive, held in the parking lot of the Abbotsford News.

Martyn said she was in awe by the number of people who stopped by to drop of their recyclables during the eight-hour event. A five-tonne truck was filled by 2 p.m., she said, and had to be emptied before more items could be collected.

She said volunteers and Regional Recycling staff were especially touched when two homeless men donated their collection of bottles.

"That brought tears to people's eyes," she said.

Paul Mellis, general manager of Regional Recycling, said the event ranks among the largest bottle drives it has ever participated in. He said a typical bottle drive for an established organization can raise about $1,000.

Cash donations were also collected during the event, but those funds have not yet been totalled, Martyn said.

Recyclables can be dropped off at any Regional Recycling depot (Abbotsford, Surrey, Richmond, Vancouver and Whistler). The public can ask for the proceeds to be deposited into the “Love for Lilee” account.

The Abbotsford location is at 750 Riverside Rd.

For more information, contact Martyn at candacemartyn@hotmail.com or 778-552-3513, visit http://loveforlilee.com/fundraisers/ or visit the “Love For Lilee” page on Facebook.

Meanwhile, a song called Pray (for LJ), written on Lilee-Jean's behalf, is generating funds for BC Children's Hospital, where she is receiving chemotherapy treatment.

The song was recorded by the band Pardon My Striptease (PMS), in which Putt is the lead singer. It hit the number one spot on iTunes last Friday, knocking Nickelback's new single, When We Stand Together, from the position.

PMS challenged Nickelback to match the funds being raised. In response, the stadium rockers upped the ante by announcing a $50,000 donation to Children's Hospital.

"The support from our community ... has been second to none,"  Whittle told Black Press. "The people have rallied around a baby they don't know, and a family they know a little. It really rekindles our faith in mankind."

To buy the 99 cent song Pray (for LJ) go to http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/pray-for-lj-single/id483258496.

– with files from Jennifer Feinberg, The Chilliwack Progress

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