Children at the Rutland Boys and Girls Club hold up pink balloons during activities for Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday. After playing with the balloons, the kids devoured plates of pink cupcakes.
The special events co-ordinator for the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs started taking pre-orders for the official anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day shirts in mid-January, but said "it's been gangbusters in the last two days - absolutely crazy."
"This is nothing like last year. We're still dealing with people that need shirts. They're desperate. We've had calls from Cranbrook and Creston - all over the place."
McDonald's restaurants in Kelowna alone sold almost 1,000 shirts. Vernon's two outlets took another 500, and Penticton's two restaurants had 100 for their first anti-bullying campaign.
"McDonald's has been a great supporter. They've been going crazy as well. So many phone calls from people and companies that needed whacks of shirts," said Lawrence.
"It's so exciting to know that people are really on board with anti-bullying and trying to show their support. It feels really good."
Each of the clubs up and down the Okanagan had a variety of youth activities on Wednesday, the sixth annual Pink Shirt Day, but the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs have turned anti-bullying into a weeklong campaign as one phase of a year-round message.
"Every day, we are working on issues around bullying and anti-bullying. That happens all year round. It's emphasized for the anti-bullying week," said Lawrence.
On Wednesday, clubs organized Identity Fairs, at which club members drew pictures of themselves to show who they are and shared them with others, she said. They also did role playing, skits and other activities that help youth understand what bullying is and what they can do about it.
London Drugs had shirts available at all 76 locations to build awareness of bullying, and to support the CKNW Orphans' Fund as well as Boys and Girls Clubs across Western Canada.
"The shirts have a new design, and all funds raised go to the Orphans' Fund and Boys and Girls Clubs in each community we serve, helping to foster local anti-bullying programs," said Wynne Powell, president and CEO of London Drugs.
During the past six years, London Drugs helped raise more than $330,000 for Boys and Girls Clubs in Western Canada through the Pink Shirt Day campaign.
CKNW started Pink Shirt Day six years ago following an anti-bullying stand by two Grade 12 Nova Scotia students who witnessed a Grade 9 student being bullied for wearing pink to school. They encouraged their schoolmates to wear pink to send a message against bullying. In Canada, someone is bullied on a playground in Canada every seven minutes, according to bullying.org.