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Chilliwack, B.C. shop owner helps stranger get to the church on time in random act of kindness

Business owner Lois Chadburn says she's been overwhelmed by community support after she helped a stranger get to a wedding in Hope, B.C. on Fri. Sept. 24, 2021. Chadburn is seen here at her shop, Lolly's Fashion Lounge, in downtown Chilliwack, B.C. Courtesy: Lois Chadburn

A Chilliwack, B.C. shop owner is being applauded by her community for a random act of kindness that helped a stranger get to the church on time.

Last Friday, Lois Chadburn, owner of Lolly’s Fashion Lounge, helped dress a stranger, known only to them as Shirley, in clothes from her own closet. Her husband then shuttled their new friend to a wedding in Hope, B.C.

“She seemed like a really nice lady, and obviously had given up herself over the years fostering many kids,” said Chadburn in an interview.

“I think that you could tell it meant a lot for her to be included in this person’s special day so many years later.”

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The unusual but heartwarming story began last Friday morning, when Chilliwack RCMP shut down a portion of Wellington Avenue, the downtown street where Chadburn’s shop is located.

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Police were responding to reports of shots fired, and several buildings were evacuated, including Chilliwack’s Royal Hotel.

Guests poured into the streets — some still in their pyjamas — and browsed the downtown shops that hadn’t been closed to help kill the time.

Shirley happened to wander into the Button Box, owned by Chadburn’s close friend, Jeanie Blecker.

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“It was such an odd, almost chaotic morning,” said Blecker. “She came in and we could tell she was from the hotel because she was dressed kind of very casually — she had to get out of there quick.”

Shirley and Blecker struck up a conversation, and Blecker learned that Shirley had driven to Chilliwack from Prince George, B.C. the night before to attend the wedding of one of her former foster children.

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Without any clothes or belongings, and no timeline for accessing her hotel room again, the distraught Shirley seemed to have accepted she wouldn’t make it to the afternoon ceremony in Hope.

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Later that morning, Chadburn — whose shop had been impacted by the street closure — popped into the Button Box to ask Blecker if she had any updates on the police operation.

Blecker shared Shirley’s story, and Chadburn immediately said, “let’s find her.”

Shirley was in a coffee shop down the road and Chadburn asked if she would like a ride to the wedding, about 40 minutes northeast of Chilliwack. By then, the ceremony was set to begin in an hour.

“So I put her in my car and drove just a block to our house,” said Chaburn.

“I couldn’t get into my store to give her any clothes to wear, so I just took her home to my closet and helped her freshen up a little bit … and then she was on the road.”

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Chadburn’s husband Derek, who is retired, drove a grateful Shirley to the ceremony.

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Another woman in Chilliwack, said Blecker, gave Shirley the phone number of her parents who lived in Hope, in case Shirley needed a ride back to town.

Shirley made it to the wedding a full 10 minutes early, and upon her return to Chilliwack, returned Chadburn’s clothes and thanked her heartily.

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The unusual story of her arrival was widely discussed at the wedding, said Chadburn, as it was in Chilliwack the next day.

Blecker’s Instagram post about what happened received more than 1,000 likes, and her Facebook post was shared nearly 200 times.

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Blecker said she wanted to spread a little good news into the world.

“Anybody that knows (Lois) just knows she has the biggest heart and without a doubt, she will help anybody in need,” she told Global News.

“So, yeah, it was just it was really wonderful to just kind of watch how everybody kind of came together.”

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Chadburn said she was “shocked” by the community response to the story and was hesitant “about drawing any attention to herself.”

But just as she tried to brighten Shirley’s day, she appreciated that the story of the wedding could brighten someone else’s day too.

“I wanted that to be kind of something to help people smile,” she said.

Chadburn said her only regret is not getting Shirley’s last name or contact information, in order to stay in touch, but she’s confident “there will be a way” to for them to reconnect.

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