Salon houses community fridge
Madison Erhardt - Jan 27, 2023 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

The Kelowna Community Fridge has a new home.

The 24/7 fridge pantry for anyone who needs it will now be hosted at Burke Hair Lounge, which is located downtown at 515 Lawrence Ave.

A soft launch of the fridge and pantry space will be happening Feb. 1, with a grand re-opening happening in the coming weeks.

The previous fridge location at the Unitarians Church closed Dec. 30 due to renovations.

“I’m so excited to work with KCF,” Burke Hair Salon owner Lisa Burke said in a press release. “We are in such a central, accessible area, surrounded by the best neighbours and community. I can’t wait to see The Kelowna Community Fridge thrive in its new home.”

The community fridge is 100% volunteer operated and relies on trusting people to know their own needs, offering judgment-free access to food with as few barriers as possible.

There is no paperwork to fill out and no proof of identity, residency or income needed. They aim to help anyone who needs food. During the time hosted at the church, the fridge was regularly filled and emptied many times a day, sometimes as often as several times per hour.

You can support the Kelowna Community Fridge by donating food at any time, contributing financially at or by becoming a volunteer.

Time to Pushor Real Good
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 06, 2023 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed
(L to R): Leneigh Bosdet, Brian Stephenson, Julia Norman, Colin Edstrom, Taryn Moore, Claire MacLeod, Mark Danielson and Delaney Long.

Pushor Mitchell has entered a team in Swinging with the Stars for the first time, and it will be hosting a launch party to give even more support to Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

The Kelowna law firm and Grant Thornton LLP will be co-hosting a dance party on Saturday, Jan. 21, at BNA Tasting Room in downtown Kelowna. DJ Invizible will provide the music, there will be Asian fusion appetizers from BoxcAr, two drink tickets and a “night of bustin’ a move for a great cause,” according to a press release.

There will also be live auction items, including a track day at Area 27, courtesy of August Motorcars, a suite for 10 at a Kelowna Rockets game, courtesy of Pushor Mitchell, and a helicopter tour, courtesy of Okanagan Mountain Helicopter.

Swinging with the Stars will take place Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at Delta Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort. Pushor Mitchell’s team, which is called Pushor Real Good, is made up of eight lawyers who will be performing a hip hop routine under the guidance of professional dance instructor Jen Large.

“COHA plays a very important role locally by providing a community where no one has to die or grieve alone,” Pushor Mitchell managing partner and COHA board member Joni Metherell said. “We are pleased to have a team in the event, as our firm is about more than writing cheques; we try to get involved in the causes we support.”

Tickets for the Jan. 21 dance party at BNA can be purchased here.

Jingle Bell Build brings in bucks
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 05, 2023 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

It didn’t quite reach its goal, but Habitat for Humanity Okanagan still raised more than $17,000 during its second annual Jingle Bell Build last month.

The group set out to raise $30,000 this year, but supply chain issues caused the fundraiser to start later. The money will go towards Habitat’s current Lake Country project that will build 12 affordable homes.

“We’re thankful for the generosity of our community, and passion of our cause partners in reaching this achievement,” Habitat for Humanity Okanagan CEO Andrea Manifold said in a press release. “They have not only helped us raise $17,000-plus dollars, but they have helped to ensure more families in need have a safe, decent, affordable place to call home.”

The Jingle Bell Build is a gingerbread house building competition. People bought kits for $25, built their best gingerbread house and submitted pictures of their creations.

Winners were declared in several categories through online voting and a panel of judges. The Ivans won the family/individual category, while Cohesion Land Design captured the team event. The Bowolin family, meanwhile, was the people’s choice winner.

Re/Max Kelowna was the presenting sponsor, and other supporters were Acorn Homes, Emil Anderson, CHBA-Central Okanagan, Westwood  Cabinets, Norelco Cabinets, Interior Savings, Domino’s Pizza and Cowan Insurance.

Local biz tackles schizophrenia
Rob Gibson - Jan 05, 2023 - Get Involved

Photo: Pixabay

If you or someone you know is living with schizophrenia, new medicine could help improve cognitive impairment for those living with the affliction.

The Mayo Clinic describes schizophrenia as a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. The most common characteristics are disruptions in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness and social interactions.

Okanagan Clinical Trials is looking for people who are living with schizophrenia to take part in an ongoing medication research study in Kelowna. The study is looking at the safety and effectiveness of an investigational medication designed to improve cognitive impairment for individuals living with schizophrenia.

“Currently, schizophrenia and the medications to manage it impair the cognition of patients, resulting in negative impacts on function and quality of life,” principal investigator Dr. Eugene Okorie said in a press release. “This trial offers an opportunity to explore the effectiveness and tolerability of a medication that could help with the cognitive impairments associated with schizophrenia and medications used to manage it.”

Okanagan Clinical Trials president Dr. Kim Christie said: “Cognitive impairment is a common symptom in people with schizophrenia, and treatments are highly needed. OCT is excited to participate in this study to determine if this medication is effective.”

The study needs men and women between the ages of 19 and 50 for treatment, which will not impact provincial medical coverage, and all study-related costs will be paid for by the sponsor. Participants are free to leave the study at any time.

Million-dollar donation for babies
Kristen Holliday - Jan 05, 2023 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed
Guy Mercier, with granddaughter Briar, son Justin and daughter Aimee, who is holding a photo of her grandmother, Rita C. Mercier.

A Kamloops businessman and philanthropist has donated $1 million to the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation—money that will go toward RIH’s new neonatal intensive care unit.

In a news release, the RIH Foundation said Guy Mercier made the donation in honour of his mother, Rita C. Mercier, who suffered the loss of four children before the age of four, and showed “tireless dedication” to her family and surviving six children.

The new neonatal intensive care unit will be named after her.

“Listening to my mother tell the stories of the loss of their newborn daughter and three sons provided a perspective of what many parents go through with a sick baby or toddler. This was one way for my family to impact change,” Mercier said in a statement.

According to the RIH Foundation, the new NICU is located in the recently built Phil and Jennie Gaglardi tower, and is more attuned to the needs of families and premature babies.

The expanded unit includes eight single bassinet rooms and four stabilization bays, and the new space will allow parents to have the option of staying overnight with their baby in private rooms.

Dr. Denise Chapple, chief of pediatrics at RIH, said the neonatal intensive care unit is grateful to receive Mercier’s gift.

“It allows us to provide optimal family-centred care to our patients and their loved ones,” she said.

“This generous contribution will help to fit each private patient room in the NICU with a refrigerator and sleeper chair so that out-of-town parents can enjoy the comforts of home while staying with their newborn babies.”

Chapple said the donation will also help to purchase special beds for babies who are receiving care.

RIH Foundation said Mercier has supported it, among other Kamloops organizations, for more than 20 years. Mercier, the founder of construction firm Acres Enterprises, said he hopes to inspire his own children to give back through this donation.

Heidi Coleman, CEO of RIH Foundation, said Mercier has helped fund renovations in the emergency department’s trauma room and has supported the development of a cancer clinic at RIH.

“This newest gift has changed the way families and their newborns receive care in our hospital. We are very grateful for his ongoing support,” Coleman said.

Donations top last year’s total
Darren Handschuh - Jan 05, 2023 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

The final numbers are not yet in, but donations to the Vernon Salvation Army kettle campaign are expected to top $540,000.

While the campaign didn’t reach its target of $650,000, Neil Thompson with the Vernon Sally Ann says the generosity of North Okanagan residents was “amazing.”

Thompson said they knew it was unlikely they would reach the $650,000 mark during the Christmas campaign, but he was humbled by the support given by the community.

“We raised more than last year,” Thompson said. “Which is incredible considering inflation. It’s remarkable people were able to give to that level. We want to give a big thank you to the community.”

Thompson said demand at the food bank rose a staggering 30% in 2022.

Donations will go to the House of Hope under which the food bank operates, along with other programs such as its Pathway to Hope.

Thompson says the goal of Pathway to Hope is to help people set goals to get them out of the cycle of poverty.

Thompson admits it is a big problem to tackle, but it will benefit not only those in the program, but the community as well, as there will less reliance on assistance.

Donations can be made to the Salvation Army year round, with all of the money staying local.

For more information, visit its website.

Gala leads to sunshine deliveries
Okanagan Edge Staff - Dec 22, 2022 - Get Involved

Photos: Contributed
Bodnar delivering the packages this week.

The inaugural Miracle on Okanagan Fundraising Gala was a smashing success, and that means hospital patients and those who support them will be receiving a little bit of sunshine this holiday season.

The gala was held Dec. 3 at The Laurel Packinghouse in Kelowna. The money raised went to Delivering Sunshine, a business that sells care packages for parents or anyone else who is going through a tough time and whose circumstances prevent them from obtaining life’s necessities, like a toothbrush or deodorant.

The funds raised during the gala were enough to create 1,000 holiday care packages and 22 night stays at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver.

Delivering Sunshine creator Ashley Bodnar spent this week delivering those holiday care packages to hospitals in Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Oliver. She also dropped off packages at hospices, support homes and several nursing homes.

“Every single hospital patient in the Okanagan will be getting a package this week as a cheerful gesture,” Bodnar said.

More information about Delivering Sunshine can be found on its website here.

Ruby’s tree star of show
Kirk Penton - Dec 21, 2022 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

The memory of young Ruby Rota continues to shine bright.

The seven-year-old passed away in May 2017 due to a brain tumour, and once again this holiday season her family is keeping her memory alive—and raising money—through the annual Festival of Trees, a BC Children’s Hospital Foundation fundraiser.

Ruby Rota

Since Ruby loved Disney and everything associated with it, this year her family decorated the “In Memory of Ruby Rota” Christmas tree with a Moana theme. The tree is on display in the lobby at Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort in downtown Kelowna, and it is free for anyone to view.

“It’s just part of our grieving processes to try to find something positive around the holidays to remember Ruby by,” dad Wes Rota said of decorating a tree in honour of his daughter. “It’s not just for us, but everybody else that knew her: teachers, friends and all those people. It gives them somewhere positive to go and maybe just reflect a little bit.”

There are Festival of Trees locations throughout the province, but the “In Memory of Ruby Rota” tree has raised the most money thus far. It has already topped the $5,000 mark, and the goal is to raise $10,000 for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation before the fundraiser wraps on Jan. 3. Money raised this year will go specifically to treat children who have diabetes.

Rota family members spent significant time at Vancouver’s Ronald McDonald House during Ruby’s treatments, and they have not forgotten how excellent everyone was to them during the most heartbreaking time of their lives. That also plays a role in their decision to decorate a tree for the fundraiser every year.

“That is something we will never forget,” Wes said. “They’re an amazing bunch of people down there. If we can help raise money to make other people’s experiences better—better yet, save some kids’ lives by fundraising for research—it’s pretty important to us.”

In addition to the dozen or so trees at the Delta, there is also a Festival of Trees display at Mission Hill Estate Winery in West Kelowna. Some of the businesses that have donated to this year’s cause include Cactus Club and King Taps, Eising Construction, Art Lovers Gallery, Kelowna Laser Vision/Dr. Chambers Ophthalmic Services, Wellington-Altus, Southern Insurance, Okanagan Smile, FortisBC, YLW, Delta Hotel, Playtime Casino, Encore, Okanagan Dentistry and Fairfield Hotel Kelowna.

To donate to the “In Memory of Ruby Rota” tree, click here.

Nature’s Fare goes above, beyond
Darren Handschuh - Dec 21, 2022 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

The Nature’s Fare Markets community has risen to the challenge to help feed those in need.

The Vernon-based organic grocery and wellness chain’s seven B.C. stores have so far collected more than 12,000 pounds of food bundles donated by customers—eclipsing the 8,000 pounds of food raised last year.

“We have an amazing community. It’s heartwarming to see our customers’ generosity and to be a part of getting that food to the people who need it most,” Nature’s Fare CEO Michael Sherwood said of the bundles that are available in stores to donate until Dec. 24. “We know there’s so much pressure on food banks right now as people turn to them for help, so we wanted to support our local food banks as much as possible this holiday season.”

In addition to the bundles of food donated by customers, Nature’s Fare Markets gave $60,000 to food banks in the communities it serves.

Food bank cash donations of $10,000 each went to:

  • Vernon Salvation Army
  • Central Okanagan Food Bank
  • Penticton Salvation Army
  • Kamloops Food Bank
  • Sources Food Bank in White Rock
  • Langley Food Bank

This year, stores got an earlier start to setting out the prepared food bundles of everything from peanut butter and jam to baby care and breakfast essentials.

So far, customers across B.C. stores have picked up and donated more than $25,000 worth of food. Food bank bundles are available until Christmas Eve.

The Salvation Army puts out call
Tim Petruk - Dec 21, 2022 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

The head of The Salvation Army’s Kamloops branch says donations are down significantly so far this holiday season, and he’s hoping to see donors come out in force in the coming days.

Capt. Cory Fifield said $272,000 has been raised locally so far this season—well short of the agency’s $450,000 goal.

“Our hope is that those who have given in the past will come out in these final days of the year and support us again because these funds are vital to the support we offer members of the Kamloops community year-round,” he said.

“This includes our mobile feeding ministry, emergency food and financial assistant, as well as many other programs and services offered throughout the year.”

Earlier this month, Fifield put out a call for volunteers to work collecting donations at kettle locations. He said most of those shifts have now been filled with four days remaining.

The Salvation Army runs 11 donation locations throughout the city, including the two liquor stores. Donations are also accepted online, by mail or in person at 344 Poplar St.

While the kettle campaign ends on Christmas Eve, online donations will be collected until Dec. 31.

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