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Valentines Day marks the first Okanagan Generosity Day

Non-profit organizations around the Okanagan have committed to put their hands together to promote a generous spirit among non-profits. - Contributed
Non-profit organizations around the Okanagan have committed to put their hands together to promote a generous spirit among non-profits.
— image credit: Contributed

We're not going to put our individual hands out, we're going to put our hands together, says Candace Giesbrecht, director of promotion and development for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna.

She is talking about Okanagan Generosity Day, a campaign to encourage generosity of every type, which CMHA and four other non-profit organizations are bringing to the Central Okanagan.

"We just want to call people's attention to giving generously," she said. "Part of the deal is that you commit to not exploiting this for your own gain. We want to make this about the community, not about a cause."

Generosity Day got started on a global level in 2011 when Sasha Dichter, an executive for a non-profit organization targeting poverty who blogs about generosity, decided to take his own person commitment not to turn down any request for help for the month of February and turn it into a worldwide movement.

With the help of several friends who head other non-profits, he took aim at Valentine's Day, hoping to save it from the corporations looking to profit on romantic love and use the date to help everyone around the world share in a more generous spirit.

As Giesbrecht explains it, this could mean volunteering or donating funds, but it can also be as simple as offering up your Safeway card to someone who has forgotten theirs or letting the elderly person in line behind you take your spot in a line, as she saw one woman do in the grocery store this week.

"We're asking, what could you do on this day that would show your love for the community?" she said. "We intentionally decided not to police it."

The Central Okanagan Foundation, Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, Kelowna Community Resources, United Way of the Central and South Okanagan, and CMHA have all set up a Facebook account and will be using the hashtag #okletsgive in their social media promotions.

Giesbrecht said she first noticed the concept on Twitter and followed it trending last year, thinking it was a brilliant plan to encourage giving in a global way.

"So often people think (non-profit organizations) are competing with each other, but if somebody is investing generously in one aspect of our community, it's going to impact us all," she said.

To learn more or show support for Okanagan Generosity Day, go to www.facebook.com/okletsgive where new ideas of what you can do are being added daily.

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