Interior Savings is gearing up for its annual Day of Difference.
The big event will be held this Thursday (Oct. 21), and it will feature more than 400 Interior Savings employees fanning out across their communities to volunteer and surprise people with almost $10,000 in gifts, random acts of kindness and cheques for local non-profits.
“It’s a day when credit unions around the globe celebrate the history and achievements of the credit union movement and all those who have been a part of it,” Interior Savings’ CEO Kathy Conway said in a press release. “As a co-operative, we believe we can make the greatest difference in people’s lives by working together, and this is one way to say thanks to our members and to the many non-profit partners who are helping to make our community strong.”
Thursday is International Credit Union Day, and it will kick off with a breakfast for employees and locally made gifts for members. Most branches will then close at 2 p.m. to allow its employees to spread their goodwill—and cash. Employees will be cleaning up streets and streams, and helping groups like Mamas for Mamas, Helens Acres, Kelowna Hospice, Clubhouse Farms and Silver Lake Forestry Camp with fall property clean up.
They will also be popping up here and there with gifts and random acts of kindness. Donations will be made to the Food Bank, CMHA, Foundry, BC Children’s Hospital and Paws it Forward.
The Westbank Salvation Army celebrated its grand reopening with the community on Saturday after the store received a huge makeover.
To celebrate, The Salvation Army had food and drink available by donation, as well as live music and a magician. Dozens from the community came out to see the revamped store, and connect with staff and volunteers.
Upon entering, customers will notice a brighter, more organized space, filled with more merchandise than ever before.
“We have new paint, fixtures, clothing racks, and we’ve added some gridwall. We had a really awesome design team come in and make the space look great, and I think all the work they did will really help enhance the shopping experience,” community engagement manager Lenetta Parry said.
As the ribbon to officially welcome customers back into the store was cut, the crowd on hand cheered and celebrated. Parry said community spirit and support is what kept The Salvation Army alive during renovations, and she wants to extend her thank you to all volunteers and donors.
“This organization wouldn’t exist without the support of our community. We have senior meal programs, youth programs, emergency food programs, and we provide emergency food and furniture for people in our community. So this is a community organization, and we couldn’t do it without their support,” Parry said.
The Salvation Army has had a difficult 18 months between trying to provide for the community during the pandemic, store closures due to renovations, the pandemic, and the recent wildfires. Parry said she feels a strong sense of gratitude towards everyone who helped make the store’s grand reopening happen.
Westbank First Nation councillor Jordan Coble was one of many politicians on hand at Saturday’s event, and he had the honour of cutting the giant red ribbon with an equally giant pair of scissors. Coble spoke about how the Salvation Army brings communities together.
“Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I’m so grateful for the Salvation Army and how it brings our community together, not just on days of celebration but in times of need,” Coble said. “It gives us that sense of community that we need to look after one another.”
The store has introduced new hours of operation. From Tuesday to Friday, customers can shop from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. If you’d like to make a donation, the donation station is located on the back side of the building at 3531 Old Okanagan Highway in West Kelowna.
Close to $70,000 was raised at the 11th annual charity golf tournament in support of YMCA programs.
“One important criterium when selecting a charity was that proceeds would stay in the Okanagan,” said Steven Pavelich, the managing partner with title sponsor WMB.
“The YMCA is unique in that it ensures 100 per cent of our dollars raised would stay in the community and equally important would help underprivileged children in need. We are honoured to have the opportunity to be a part of this event benefitting the Y.”
The sun shone on the 120 golfers, who enjoyed staggered tee start times, contests and prizing at Kelowna Golf and Country Club on Sept. 20.
Funds were contributed through sponsorships, donations of prizing, a raffle, an online auction and a portion of the golfers’ entry fee, resulting in roughly $68,000 raised.
“We are honoured to be able to raise much-needed funds despite the many hurdles and challenges this year and want to thank everyone for their kindness and support of important local Y programs. See you all in 2022,” co-chairs Dr. John Weisbeck and Alli McNeill said.
The Central Okanagan Food Bank had another successful pie auction this year.
“The auction was awesome. We had over $11,000 raised,” said Sarah Martin, the community development coordinator with the COFB.
For its second annual Thanksgiving Pie Fundraiser, pies were auctioned off on the COFB website. Local chef Shelley Robinson raised an astounding $1,900 for the Central Okanagan Food Bank through the fundraiser, which was named Bake the World a Better Place. Robinson’s highest-bid pie was a spinach artichoke and sheep feta.
“There’s so many amazing people here, and this town is built out of business owners that actually care about others, and it’s a big deal,” Martin said. “People are being fed this weekend, and that’s all thanks to our community.”
This years total of $11,000 raised is on par with last year’s total. Bidders were expected to begin receiving their pies on Thursday night, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
For those looking to get involved in volunteer activities through the COFB, click here.
Launch Okanagan has changed many lives, and now it is looking for more support to keep making a positive impact in the Central Okanagan.
Launch Okanagan started the Matched Savings program more than a decade ago to help people effectively manage their personal finances. People saved money each month for 12 months, and then Launch Okanagan tripled the final amount at the end of the program, allowing the participants to—for example—continue their education, contribute to an RRSP or start a small business.
Now Launch Okanagan has kicked off a fundraising campaign called Launch a Life, whose funds will be used to operate the program and provide the matched dollars.
“I helped to start the Matched Savings program over 10 years ago to not only equip lower income individuals in our community with vital financial management skills, but also give them opportunities to reach their personal goals through incentivized savings,” Launch Okanagan co-founder Michael Wendland said in a press release.
“The result is over 100 graduates and lives impacted to date, leading to empowered, confident and financially independent graduates. Program demand has increased substantially over the last year, so we need individual and corporate sponsors more than ever to keep launching lives and impacting the vulnerable in our community.”
Donors will be asked to contribute $50 per month to “launch a life” in the community.
More information can be found here.
The Central Okanagan Food Bank saw an outpouring of support during the BC Thanksgiving Food Drive.
Donations were collected Saturday, and on Wednesday the food bank was a flurry of activity, with volunteers sorting donations for food hampers.
“We’re helping the food bank sort all those donations into the various categories so that food hampers can go out to individuals that are in need,” food drive spokesman Gordon Oliver said.
The BC Thanksgiving Food Drive has been providing meals for those in need at Thanksgiving for 11 years now, and, as Oliver tells Castanet, this year was a major success.
“We’re so pleased and grateful to the people of the Okanagan, especially in Kelowna and West Kelowna for their generosity this year. We brought in more than 43,000 pounds of food donations for families in need,” Gordon said. The food bank had raised more than $6,300 in donations.
Chief development officer for the Central Okanagan Food Bank, Tammie Watson, is not only amazed, but grateful for the community support.
“We live in an amazing community in the Okanagan, both Kelowna, West Kelowna and surrounding areas, and the community always comes to our rescue when it’s needed, and we’ve seen over the past 18 months how that’s looked with the pandemic and recent forest fires. We simply can’t do what we do within the community without community support,” Watson explained.
The food bank expects to see a similar trajectory in terms of donations for the upcoming December holiday season, but Watson also wants to remind the community that it’s important to think of seniors when it comes to food donations.
“What we’re seeing right now is a huge influx in our seniors population, and the fact that more seniors are coming to us for help. Food Banks Canada did a national survey in 2019, and it highlighted the fact that seniors are the fastest growing food bank user group in all of Canada,” Watson said.
For those who are still in need of a warm Thanksgiving meal this weekend, you can reach out to the COFB by clicking here or calling 250-763-7161.
If you’re big into books, the City of Penticton wants you.
The South Okanagan city’s council is looking for two people to fill two-year terms on the Penticton Public Library board of directors. The application deadline is at 4 p.m. on Oct. 25.
Applications can be found online or can be picked up at city hall, which is located at 171 Main St.
More information about the board positions can be obtained by calling chief librarian Heather Buzzell at 250-770-7784.
The Realtors at Re/Max Vernon Salt Fowler raised $500 for White Rock Lake fire victims during its annual Pumpkinfest last weekend.
Salt Fowler officials were out on Saturday at the pumpkin patch on St. Anne’s Road in Spallumcheen, providing hot chocolate and coffee, treats for the kids and coupons for free pumpkins. They took donations and matched each one to raise the funds.
“This year was a bit slower, which we understand given the weather didn’t cooperate as much as it usually does, and with COVID-19,” Vernon Salt Fowler co-founder Gord Fowler said in a press release. “However, with our group matching every donation dollar for dollar, we are happy with the results.”
The real estate firm’s support of the White Rock Lake fire victims won’t end with Pumpkinfest, either.
“This year, in addition to the donations made at this event, a substantial portion of our charity funds is earmarked for supporting the victims of the White Rock Lake fires,” Lisa Salt said.
The Starfish Pack Project got a big boost on Wednesday afternoon, as it received a $5,000 cheque from the Elks of Canada.
The National Leader of the Elks of Canada, Maurice W. Koszman of Bengough Sask., was in attendance to present the donations.
The local Starfish Pack program, facilitated by Penticton Rotary, makes sure that kids who may rely on school meal programs during the school week also have food to take home for the weekend.
Elks volunteers pack the weekly backpacks that help provide families with food in collaboration with Penticton Save-On Foods and Big Jay’s Express.
The initiative now provides families with supplemental meal items for two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, snacks and some fresh produce.
The Penticton Elks also gave a $5,000 donation to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, which aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Teacher Appreciation Day is next week, and Accent Inns is marking the occasion by showing some love to the province’s educators.
The company, which has hotels in Kelowna and Kamloops, will be visiting schools on Friday and thanking teachers by handing out gift baskets consisting of rubber duckies and custom bubble baths.
Accent Inns, which has five hotels across the province, will also be giving away two free hotel nights to one school employee—and everyone who works at the school. School employees will have to be nominated via Accent Inns’ Facebook page to be eligible for the prize.
The draw will be open to all school employees in B.C. and will be live from Oct. 1-8.