Cheryl Zandbergen simply wanted a day out with her friends.
The Maple Ridge mother of two wanted to visit WildPlay in late July and was trying to figure out what day would work best for the other mothers.
“I wanted to get out of my own comfort zone and get back to being a little bit of who I was before I had kids,” she explained.
Zandbergen started a group on Facebook and told her friends to invite their friends to try to get a big enough group together to go to the tree-top adventure park.
In four days, Zandbergen said 450 people had answered her call.
Now the group has morphed into a full-blown club that Zandbergen has called Moms Gone Wild.
The club currently has 2,060 members.
Since July, the group has been going on outings mostly around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Members did a high-flying trapeze outing at West Coast Flying Trapeze in Pitt Meadows, they went to an indoor shooting range in Langley, Wild Play in Maple Ridge and they just did a mug making workshop at 4Cats in Maple Ridge.
So far they have been on 30 outings, half of which sold out.
“There is a big sense of community in the group,” explained Zandbergen.
“It’s a bunch of moms, and we all have a yearning to get out of the house and have adult conversations and some of us who are stay-at-home moms to feel like we are contributing to society in ways other than just raising our kids,” she said.
Zandbergen has since started a side project called the Moms Gone Wild Give Back Program.
Within it, she has initiated a fundraiser that she has called the Teen Christmas Gift Drive.
Zandbergen volunteers every year at the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society and has noticed, year after year, that there just are not enough gifts or even enough variety of gifts for teens.
“Last year, the [Christmas Hamper Society] supported 668 children and teens, which is wild. But what I noticed was there are tons of donations for the younger kids, sort of up to the age 10 range, and once you get over that, it gets really tricky,” said Zandbergen.
She started her gift drive and fundraiser on Nov. 1 with a goal of raising $1 per mom in the group – which had 1,780 members at the beginning of the month – or an unwrapped gift.
As of the beginning of this week, the group had raised more than $4,000.
So Zandbergen raised the goal.
She told them if they hit $4,500 that she would jump into Whonnock Lake.
And she did Wednesday afternoon, with two other members.
By Thursday, the total was at $5,165 and rising.
The end of the drive will be on Nov. 28, or Giving Tuesday, when a group of 20 of them will be delivering the money and gifts to the Christmas Hamper Society and volunteering for a couple of hours.
Even those spots were filled within three hours after a post onto their Facebook page.
Currently, Zandbergen is trying to get sponsorship for two more projects in the group.
One is the Every Mom Campaign, for which members will be giving away gift cards to a deserving mom at least once a month that will be nominated by her friends.
The other project will be the Mom First Event, which will be centered around self-care for moms.
In January, there is already an event planned that will be hosted by mental health expert who will be giving a talk on anxiety, fear and helping moms to overcome that.
Zandbergen is also hoping to expand the club in the next couple of years and roll it out in every community.
“I really do feel like it’s clearly something that the community needed. It seems to have really taken off,” said Zandbergen.
The focus of the group is on mothers and Zandbergen has no plans to change that.
“Most of the dads in this community are starting to not like me, I think, because they are watching the kids on their own,” she laughed.