Thief puts damper on bottle drive to benefit family of baby girl with cancer

A good deed for a couple coping with the devastating illness of their 10-month-old daughter took a sour turn on Tuesday in Abbotsford.

Lilee-Jean Whittle-Putt

A good deed for a couple coping with the devastating illness of their 10-month-old daughter took a sour turn on Tuesday in Abbotsford.

About 60 bags of bottles collected in a drive to raise funds for Andrew Putt and Chelsey Whittle were stolen.Candace Martyn, one of the bottle drive organizers, estimates the collection was worth about $300 to $500.

The funds were to go to Putt and Whittle of Chilliwack. Their daughter, Lilee-Jean, has been diagnosed with glioblastoma – an aggressive brain cancer – and had surgery performed on Oct. 21. She is now undergoing chemotherapy. The couple have been by her side at B.C. Children’s Hospital and have been unable to work.

Martyn, who is eight months pregnant with her second child, and her sister Lisa Kask of Delta are long-time friends of Whittle and wanted to do something to alleviate the couple’s financial pressures.

They decided to hold a community-wide bottle drive, and started a Facebook page to tell people about it. Martyn’s friend Alix Daniels, who is almost nine months pregnant, also got involved in the bottle drive and in collecting donations for a swap meet.

They have picked up bottles from contributors, and Martyn posted her address for people to drop them off at any time of the day. They were stored along the side of her home, towards the backyard.

The trio have already cashed in a couple of loads and have presented about $500 to the couple. They were expecting to take in the next load soon, but Martyn arrived home from work on Tuesday to see that all but three or four small bags of bottles had been taken. Tire marks could be seen on the grass.

“We’re absolutely devastated. We have worked so hard to collect the funds, and they’ve been stolen. Not just stolen from our fundraiser, but stolen from a family in need,” Martyn said.

She said the bottle drive will continue, and the items are now being stored in her basement.

Martyn can be contacted by email at candacemartyn@hotmail.com or by phone at 778-552-3513. For more information, visit the “Love For Lilee” page on Facebook, or the website loveforlilee.com.

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