What started as one local business owner wanting to do something to give back to the community over the holidays has snowballed into something much bigger, spreading the spirit of giving throughout Penticton.
Trevor Sparreboom, owner of the retro video-game shop Game Cave, recently took to social media looking for a family in need whom he could help out this Christmas by giving them a new Nintendo Switch gaming console.
Once the public caught wind of Sparreboom’s big-hearted actions, it triggered a waterfall of giving among locals. Various anonymous people stepped up and donated a video game console and gift cards to be given to struggling families this Christmas.
It started with one customer who came into Game Cave and bought an Xbox One console and a few games and asked Sparreboom to donate the gifts to a deserving family.
Sparreboom detailed the actions of the generous customer on social media. The post quickly made the rounds among locals and inspired numerous others to purchase more gifts for families in need.
“It just snowballed from there, I started getting customers coming in donating 20 bucks, 50 bucks, 30 bucks… they all just wanted to pitch in and put it towards gift cards or games,” Sparreboom said.
In the end, Sparreboom was able to donate the Nintendo Switch console he had originally intended with two extra games as well as the Xbox console purchased by the anonymous customer, and a total of $300 in gift cards accumulated from multiple donations.
In total, because of the community’s generosity, Sparreboom was able to help five families in need — four more than he originally intended.
Sparreboom decided to split the the $300 in gift cards into three $100 gift cards and donate them to three separate families. He also donated the Nintendo and Xbox consoles to two other families.
Picking which families to donate the gifts to was extremely difficult, Sparreboon said. He received over 100 nominations of struggling families. “I wish I could help everybody, it was really hard to narrow it down,” he said.
Eventually he chose to donate the Nintendo Switch to six-year-old Orion Parisien-Wawea and his mom Sierra Book from Keremeos. The four other families who received the gifts wished to remain anonymous.
Orion was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago. On the day (Dec. 21) he and his mom picked up the Nintendo from Game Cave, they had just returned from chemotherapy treatment in Kelowna.
Orion could not have been happier with his early Christmas gift. He was so excited he immediately opened the box and began playing in the car.
“He’s been asking for a Switch for a couple years now,” Book said. “When we first got here he was really shy but once we got into the van he totally flipped out and was already playing it.
“It just means a lot to us to be nominated and that Orion actually got it.”
Orion’s favourite game is Super Mario Bros, the six-year-old said. His mom anticipates he’ll be playing a lot of Super Mario in the future.
The last three years have been extremely difficult for Orion and his family, Book said. They’ve been constantly travelling to and from Kelowna and Vancouver for treatment.
“There’s been a lot of up-and-downs and tears and week-long stays in the hospital but hopefully by September (2021) he should be done his treatment,” Book said.
The family is hopeful that by the end of Orion’s treatment in September he will have beaten leukemia and will be able to go on living a happy, healthy life.
Both Book and Sparreboom were astonished at the generosity shown by locals, especially in such a challenging year.
“It just shows you that there’s still a lot of warm Christmas spirit in a lot of people, it was really heartwarming to see everybody stepping forward and wanting to help.” Sparreboom said. “Everyone (that received gifts) was super, super happy.
“One guy was crying he was so touched by it. It makes me feel good personally and it makes me feel good that the community stepped up to make it possible.”
In the future, Sparreboom hopes to continue the giving tradition at Game Cave. The new business owner said he already has plans to make this a yearly event and hold an annual Christmas gift drive for families in need.