Vernon’s Barrita Durward (right) has been helping build orphanages in Mexico for the past eight years, thanks to funds raised from her immensely popular Valentine’s for Mexico event. The ninth annual affair is slated for Friday, Feb. 23, at the Best Western Vernon Lodge. (Photo submitted)

Valentine’s for Mexico fundraiser approaches

Ninth annual Vernon event helps build orphanages in Mexico

Door prizes. Silent auction gems. Chocolate galore.

And, most importantly, smiles and funds for Mexican orphans.

Cotton’s Chocolates and the Sweet Smiles Society present the ninth annual Valentine’s for Mexico Sweet Smiles Fundraiser and Silent Auction Friday, Feb. 23, at the Best Western Vernon Lodge, presented by A&W.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m.

“We are raising money to complete a childhood development centre at the City of Angels orphanage in Cozumel,” said event founder Barrita Durward of Cotton’s Chocolates. “The centre will have designated therapy and counselling rooms for the children.”

Funds from the popular evening will be used to break ground and begin construction on the seventh house at City of Angels orphanage. This will allow an additional nine children to be rescued from the exploitation of the streets and call City of Angels home.

Organizers will also begin the expansion to the existing Transition House at City of Angels, and money raised in Vernon will be used to begin building a third home at the society’s Family Preservation/Orphanage Prevention project in Huatulco.

“The first two homes have been completed,” said Durward. “The third site has been excavated and we are hoping to begin construction on the third home in early March.

“The transition house will be for when the older kids turn 18 and they can move into this new house. It will help them learn things like shopping and balancing a cheque book.”

Sun-FM Sunrise Show co-hosts Brian Martin and Betty Selin will emcee the Valentine’s for Mexico fundraiser which, Durward said, features all kinds of “crazy prizes.”

“TVs have been donated. A kayak has been donated,” she said.

There are five separate balloon bursts featuring prizes such as jewelry and, of course, there is not one but two chocolate buffets to be auctioned off by auctioneer Paul Cousins.

The evening and the cause are extremely close to Durward’s heart.

“The City of Angels is one of my favourite places, and the new home in Huatulco is going to be just as amazing,” she said.

“I want to thank everyone who takes part, or has taken part, in making a profound impact in the lives of these children. To be able to share the changes with this community is a real blessing.”

Sponsors for the evening include A&W (title sponsor); Baron Insurance (platinum); White House Mortgages (silver); Tim Hortons (bronze); Little Miracles Pre-School (pearl); Sun-FM (media); Rellish Transport Services and The Mortgage Centre – Charmaine Scherk (chocolate buffets); Red Door Photography (photo booth); and Furmanek Jewellry (garnet).

For tickets and/or silent auction donations, contact Mali at 250-550-8207, or Durward at 778-212-2438; 250-503-2535; or

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Vernon’s Barrita Durward (right) has been helping build orphanages in Mexico for the past eight years, thanks with funds raised from her immensely popular Valentine’s for Mexico event. The ninth annual affair is slated for Friday, Feb. 23, at the Best Western Vernon Lodge. (Photo submitted)

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