Truckload of donations
Alanna Kelly - 8:14 am - Get Involved

Image: Contributed.
Event organizer Brendan Buttler and son Troy.

Donations from the September Salvation Army Motorcycle Toy Run in Kelowna were dropped off on Tuesday.

Over $4,000 and a truck full of toys was dropped off at the Salvation Army for their Christmas toy hampers.

Riders joined together to raise donations back in September and rode all the way to Lake Country and back.

Event organizer Brendan Buttler and his son dropped off the toys Tuesday.

Last Christmas over 500 families registered and over $1,100 toys were donated.

This year is expected to be even bigger.

Big White gives back
Rob Gibson - Dec 13 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

Big White Ski Resort has been enjoying a great snow season so far.

Wednesday they shared the wealth with the big White Fire Department, handing out season passes to members of the department’s Work Experience Program.

The program is in its 16th year and has helped place 85 members in fire departments across Canada and the world.

“We’re happy to offer WEP participants a complimentary season pass as we appreciate the service they provide to the community along with the rest of the Big White Fire Department,” says Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president at Big White Ski Resort. “We believe these complimentary passes add to their enjoyment and overall experience at Big White Ski Resort and will continue to be a great tool for recruitment and retention for this vital program.”

Big White Fire Department’s WEP is now looked at as one of the best programs of its kind in North America.

Every year, the Big White Fire Department receives applications provincially, nationally and internationally. Each application is graded and scored in a thorough screening process and only the best applicants are accepted into the program.

“Many aspiring young firefighters are looking at Big White’s program to assist them in obtaining a career as a full-time firefighter,” says Jamie Svendsen, fire chief at the Big White Fire Department. “Having the opportunity to ski is a great way for our members to reduce the stresses associated with the job and allows them to experience this beautiful resort we call home.”

Swinging for a decade
Okanagan Edge Staff - Dec 12 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

A popular Kelowna fundraiser will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, when the Central Okanagan Hospice Association holds it Swinging with the Stars gala.

The March 10 event will set the stage for six dancers, couples and, new this year, three teams to strut their moves on the dance floor.

This year’s theme, Dancing Through the Decades, celebrates the ten years of the fundraiser, and will showcase past alumni and “all the glitz and glamour the signature event has become known for.”

Dancers are already fundraising and rehearsing to participate in the event. This year’s line up includes:

  • Husband and wife pair Laura Draycott (Wink-i-Wear) and Stephen Maser (Aura Wealth Management at Raymond James);
  • Husband and wife pair Lisa and Joe Kolar (TWP Fitness);
  • Martine Parent (Martini For all Occasions Wedding and Event Planning);
  • Marika Wolf (Remax Realty);
  • Shannelle Connell (Miss Universe Canada Delegate, international speaker);
  • Sheri-Lee Turner-Krouzel and Curtis Krouzel (founders and proprietors, 50th Parallel Estate Winery).

An exciting addition this year will be a new competition and category. The March 10 event will see three teams participating, with six to eight dancers in each team. The roster of teams includes:

  • Restore Vein and Skincare Centre;
  • The November Project;
  • Swinging with the Stars Alumni.

During the coming months each dancer and team will be practicing their routines and fundraising in preparation for the big show at the Delta Grand Hotel.  Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by phone, at 250-864-0533, or by emailing [email protected]

‘In honour of my son’
Kate Bouey - Dec 11 - Get Involved

Image: Kate Bouey
Left to right: Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton, Tracy Cobb-Reeves of Kal Tire, philanthropist George Galbraith.

Okanagan College’s Vernon campus got a big financial boost Monday for its new trades training centre, currently under construction.

Local philanthropist George Galbraith and Kal Tire donated $250,000 each towards the Okanagan College Foundation’s ‘Bright Horizons – Building for Skills’ campaign for the new trades centre. The foundation’s goal is to raise $1 million locally.

The $6.2 million trades centre building will be named after Galbraith’s son, Kieran, who died nine years ago.

“He was a mechanical engineer who worked in the electrical industry in the Kootenays for Fortis,” said Galbraith. “It’s going to be recognition of his legacy.”

Galbraith expressed hope his donation would inspire others to contribute as well.

Kal Tire spokesperson Tracy Cobb-Reeves expressed excitement over the new 13,450 sq. ft. facility.

“We know all too well the value of well-trained people. We hire them throughout our stores in Canada,” said Cobb-Reeves. “And to be able to have a facility that will deliver the level of quality trades training that this facility is going to have in B.C., is fantastic for the province, for the economy and for organizations like ours which are constantly trying to fill the critical role of trades people.”

“Both George Galbraith and Kal Tire are renowned for their philanthropy and civic spirit,” said Jim Hamilton, college president. “Once again, they are supporting the community, this time through significant contributions to a leading-edge facility.”

The trades facility is “on time and on budget” with completion targeted for next spring, according to regional dean Jane Lister.

The college foundation also announced a partnership with the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan (CFNO) to allow individuals and businesses to make a donation to the foundation’s campaign.

The first gift to the campaign was made in May by Keith Construction, a Vernon home building and renovation company.

For more information or to donate, go online.

A community unites
Chantelle Deacon - Dec 11 - Get Involved

Image: Tracy Van Raes

The community has come together donating hundreds of items to Penticton’s annual ‘Cover With Kindness’ blanket drive.

On Sunday the Penticton Vees unloaded a moving van filled with donations for local residents in need.

“The Vees brought everything into the hall and we sorted everything out onto tables,” said Tracy Van Raes, volunteer, JCI Penticton. “We received absolutely crazy amounts of blankets, coats, brand new socks, homemade toques and mittens, kids items, bathroom stuff, everything you can imagine, boots, shoes, pillows and even matts to lay on the ground.”

Volunteers spent the afternoon organizing all the items which will be donated to community members on Dec. 11 and 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. Saviours Church.

“For the next two days it will be similar to a free store where people in need can come in and take what they need to get them through the winter,” Van Raes said.

Items left over after the two-day donation handout are provided to the South Okanagan Women In Need Society.

Tons of food collected
Darren Handschuh - Dec 08 - Get Involved

Image: File Photo

Realtors in the North Okanagan have done it again.

The annual food drive collected more than 30,000 pounds of food in a single night.

The realtors, along with numerous other volunteers, canvassed neighbourhoods throughout Greater Vernon, collecting food that was then dropped off at the Salvation Army Food Bank.

“On the same night last year, we only did about 24,000 pounds and last night we surpassed 32,000,” said Lt. Stefan Reid of the Salvation Army.

“We are seven to eight thousand pounds ahead of what we were last year and we are expecting another four or five thousand pounds in the next two or three days.”

This is the 40th year for the food drive and to mark the milestone, a goal of collecting 40,000 pounds of goods was set, and Reid said by the time all the food is collected they will be very close to their goal.

“The realtors always surpass our expectations with this food drive,” said Reid. “This food will last us until well into May and June of next year.”

If anyone was missed during the food drive, they can call their favourite realtor to have donations picked up, or they can drop them off at the Salvation Army warehouse at 4609-23rd St.

Reid said none of this would be possible without the realtors and the support of the community.

“It’s because of the support of the community that we can do what we do,” said Reid, adding the food bank provides up to 25 hampers a day year round and have already received 500 applications for Christmas hampers.

“Our community is our heroes. It’s not us in our uniforms or sitting in our offices, it’s the community who truly make our food bank run.”

Gifts from outside the box
Darren Handschuh - Dec 07 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed.
The Alternative Gift Fair is a chance to give something different for Christmas – like a goat.

What do you get the person for Christmas who has everything?

How about a goat?

If you are looking for something a little different to give this Christmas, the eighth annual Alternative Gift Fair is the place to be.

The fair takes place Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Schubert Centre from noon to 5 p.m. and is hosted by Junior Chamber International (JCI) Vernon.

The fair offers holiday shoppers an easy way to buy gifts of charitable donations to support their favourite causes.

Each participating organization offers a variety of unique gifts of help, ranging from a goat in Zimbabwe to a safe ride to appointments for women in need in Vernon.

Gift donations start as low as $10. Shoppers receive cards and inserts identifying their donations to give to loved ones for Christmas.

“We are pleased to see the event grow this year with over 20 organizations participating,” said Lindsey Still, JCI Vernon Alternative Gift Fair co-chairperson.

In 2016, the fair raised more than $5,000 for local and international non-for-profit organizations.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said co-chairperson Ute Cummings. “Staying true to the spirit of this time of year and giving back to your community, while crossing people off your holiday shopping list. The perfect way to buy a gift for the person that has everything.”

For more Information, email [email protected].

A car for Christmas
Kate Bouey - Dec 06 - Get Involved

Image: Kate Bouey Fountain Tire Vernon staff and reps from Fix Auto North Okanagan and Napa Auto Parts stand with their gift car

Some worthy family or individual in Vernon in need of a car will be getting a nice Christmas present.

Fontain Tire Vernon has partnered with Fix Auto North Okanagan and Napa Auto Parts to donate a 2008 four-door Pontiac G5 sedan to a community member in need.

“We are putting four or five grand into the car,” said Brad Lewicky of Fountain Tire. “It’s getting a new used engine, a new front end and new brakes, among other things.”

Lewicky said the person who receives the free car won’t have to do any work on it for a couple of years.

“It’s a free ride basically.”

The three companies are looking to find the right family or individual and are asking for submissions.

“Please include family information, such as how many members of the family and how this would help in a time of need,” said a posting on Fountain Tire Vernon’s Facebook page.

“You’ve got to tell us why you deserve it,” said Brandon Colvin, Fountain Tire Vernon general manager. “We want to make sure the family needs it. It’s going to be a life changer.”

The contest is open to community members of Vernon and surrounding areas.

People must submit stories by end of day Dec. 20th to: [email protected].

Realtors’ food drive
Kate Bouey - Dec 05 - Get Involved

Realtors in Vernon and Armstrong are aiming to collect tons of non-perishable food this week for local food banks.

“This is the 40th annual North Okanagan Realtors Food Drive and the realtors are hoping to collect 40,000 lbs,” said Lt. Stefan Reid, manager of the House of Hope. “They’re really wanting the community to come together for this.”

Reid said the Dec. 6th realtors’ food drive is the biggest event of the year for the Salvation Army’s Vernon food bank.

“There is always a need for food at the food bank but this effort makes our food last into June, possibly into July. It is the biggest event of the year for the food bank.”

Reid has said the need in the Vernon area has never been greater, with more people than ever before using the Sally Ann’s services.

He also pointed to last summer’s fire season, when the Salvation Army distributed food and other items to needy families across the province.

“We just want to be ready, to be prepared…in the event, heaven forbid, of anything happening in our community.”

Realtors will be out in Vernon and Armstrong tomorrow to drop off bags at your front doorstep, while the food donations will be collected – from where they are left on the front porch – on Wednesday and then dropped off at the Salvation Army’s food warehouse. The food collected in Armstrong will be going to the Boys and Girls Club food bank.

Residents are asked to leave a front porch light on.

If your donation is missed, people are asked to call any real estate agent and the bag of donated food will be picked up and transported to the food bank.

Shoparama helps out
Kate Bouey - Dec 04 - Get Involved

Image: Kate Bouey

The local food bank got a boost from patrons to the popular Shoparama event at the Vernon Rec Centre.

On the first day, Saturday, 25 bins of food were filled for the House of Hope and another three bins were filled with toys, according to a vendor.

The annual Christmas sale was expected to draw three to four thousand people over the weekend, as customers looked for special, local items ahead of Christmas, said Ingrid Baron, organizer.

“We’ve got 93 vendors here from all over the Okanagan,” Baron said on Sunday. “There is so much unique stuff here that you wouldn’t find in a store anywhere.

“Most of these people make the products themselves. They’re just small entrepreneurs and small home-based businesses.”

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