Queen Silver Star Angitha Mriduraj (left) and Princess Mackenzie Kuziw (right) get a hand from Georgia Currie as the Vernon girls paint an orphanage in Mexico with the Sweet Smiles Society. (Sweet Smiles image)

Vernon’s Valentine’s for Mexico sold out

10th annual event spreads smiles for orphaned children and keeps families together

A decade of decadence, dedicated to creating smiles for deserving children and families, is drawing near.

The 10th annual Valentine’s for Mexico gets underway Friday, Feb. 22 at the Prestige Vernon Lodge. The sold-out Cotton’s chocolates Sweet Smiles Fundraiser and Silent Auction includes a chocolate buffet, balloon burst, photo booth and hundreds of prizes including a stocked liquor cabinet and locked treasure chest. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for cocktails and viewing, the buffet is served at 6:45 and then dance the night away with the Legendary Lake Monsters.

The elegant evening raises funds for four different projects, including building a home for orphans to escape the exploitation of the streets.

See: Vernon woman raises smiles for Mexico

Every year, a team of volunteers travels to Mexico to build these homes and spread sweet smiles on the faces of children.

Last year’s trip saw Vernon’s royalty take part: Queen Silver Star LVIII Angitha Mriduraj and Princess Mackenzie Kuziw.

“It was a great winter construction trip. Our biggest one yet,” said Durward, whose niece also joined her. “We had 21 people take part in this work trip.”

Other builds also take place, including a Child Development Centre, which was completed last year.

“The Child Development Centre has designated therapy and counselling rooms and two psychologists have been hired,” said Barrita Durward, Sweet Smiles founder.

Building has also begun on expansion of the Transition House.

“The Transition House will allow our 18-year-olds to transition into this home while learning the necessary tools to successfully move out on their own,” said Durward, who also owns Cotton’s Chocolates.

See: Sweet event spreads smiles

Sweet Smiles also has a Family Preservation – Orphanage Prevention Project, where families are assisted in building their own homes.

“If you are indigenous of Hualtulco, through the Hualtulco Governments Land Grant Act, you are entitled to receive a small peice of land,” said Durward. “We have been able to successfully build three houses and the family’s investment is sweat equity. They invest a minimum of 800 hours into the build of their home and it has been a great project. It allows these amazing families to invest in the dream of having their own home.”

The third home in Huatulco, Mexico has been completed and the Mier Family has moved in.

“It’s been such a blessing to have met these families. They’re so thankful and appreciative.”

Anyone who would like to support the cause and donate silent auction items can contact Durward at 778-212-2438, 250-503-2535 or email cottonschocolates@shaw.ca.


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The Mier family is one of the grateful recipients who helped construct their own home in Hualtulco with the assistance of the Sweet Smiles Society. (Sweet Smiles image)

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