The family of Aliyah Sanderson say they’re “overwhelmed” by community support they’ve received since the deaths of the 22-month-old child and her mother, Jasmine Lovett.
Lovett and Sanderson were reported missing on April 23 after they didn’t show up at a family dinner. Two weeks later, their bodies were found in the Grizzly Creek area of Kananaskis Country.
Investigators say the two were killed sometime between April 16 and 17. Thirty-four-year-old Robert Leeming, who the pair lived with at his Cranston home, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths.
Since the news of their deaths, the Cranston community, along with people all over Calgary, the province and the country have come together to put their support behind the grieving families.
An online GoFundMe fundraiser, set up to cover the costs of the memorial services, had already greatly exceeded its $30,000 goal by Friday, much of that due to a large donation from one of the grocery stores in the community, the Cranston Sobeys.
The Sobeys sold thousands of cupcakes as a fundraiser for the families. The six-packs, which had cupcakes with white, purple and pink icing, went on sale on Tuesday and were set to be sold through to Saturday. However, on Friday, Sobeys said they were completely out of the treats.
“We’ve raised an overwhelming $25,462.37 by selling a total of 4,237 cupcakes,” Sobeys spokesperson Jacquelin Weatherbee said in an emailed statement.
“There has been an outpouring of positive responses from people across Canada – the store has received calls from B.C. to Newfoundland, and the calls keep coming in!”
The fundraiser was drummed up by store owner Chantel Dunlop, who Weatherbee said wanted to do something in response to the “local tragedy which clearly had an impact on the community.”
All of the proceeds from the sale of the cupcakes was directed to the GoFundMe account, and the massive donation was seen in the list of donors on Friday afternoon.
That donation was in addition to the more than $25,000 that had already been donated.
“We are overwhelmed by the community support, from messages to condolences, and to all the fundraisers,” Amber Sanderson, the aunt of Aliyah Sanderson, said in a statement on Friday.
“We will be forever grateful for the community of Cranston and the city of Calgary for everything they have done. Thank you so much!
“An extremely huge thank-you for Sobeys Cranston and their generosity, my mother and I both cried tears of happiness when the numbers were announced. We are so touched!”
The Berwick Public House pub in the community also posted on its Facebook page that it would run a special on Saturday, May 11 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., all the proceeds of which would be donated to the family.
Dana Burrows, who launched the GoFundMe page, said Thursday that any money raised above and beyond the costs of the memorial services would be donated to a Calgary women’s shelter.
Candlelight vigil planned for Mother’s Day
Amber Sanderson and her family are planning a candlelight vigil in memory of Lovett on Mother’s Day evening.
In a Facebook event, Sanderson and her mother Jodi wrote that members of the public were welcome to gather in the Cranston Family Park across from the home they lived in.
They’re then moving to the ridge, where everyone is being asked to bring and light candles to light up the nearby ridge.
Watch below: Calgary community commemorates Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson after bodies identified. Jenna Freeman reports.
“We want to make the ridge GLOW so bright it can be seen from Stoney Trail and all surrounding communities,” the Facebook post reads.
“We hope you can all take a moment out of a special day for all the moms of the world to join our family and friends in remembering one of the best mothers we have ever known and her sweet daughter.”
— With files from Global News’ Jenna Freeman