For many of us here in Kelowna, Christmas is a time of celebration—spending time with friends and family, and the joy of watching loved ones’ faces as they open gifts.
But that’s not the case for everyone. You don’t have to be particularly religious to recall the original Christmas tale features a young couple who had no place to spend the night. For many, Christmas is a time of need.
Luckily, there are a number of dedicated individuals and organizations around Kelowna lending a helping hand and making a real difference.
You’re probably familiar with Habitat for Humanity. They’re a fantastic organization that does a tremendous amount to help people, both in Kelowna and indeed around the world.
Their programs and efforts are year-round, and thanks to the help of their volunteers and donors, eight more children will be celebrating Christmas in their very own new home. One thankful Kelowna mother exclaimed, “This means more than a home for my children, this means stability.”
One way to support Habitat for Humanity? Get out and have some fun. On Saturday, Dec.12, they’re hosting a fabulous fundraiser at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. Why there, you ask? Because they have a waterslide, of course—and Santa is a man who enjoys a good slide. Kids can slide and have their photos taken with the man himself with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.
The Kelowna Gospel Mission’s programs also help people year round.
They also host an annual Christmas Dinner for the Homeless. One of the best ways to help the Mission is by making a donation—clothing, cutlery, blankets, non-perishable food items, and if all else fails, money. It all helps.
Another great local organization is the Kelowna Community Food Bank. Over the last 20 years, they’ve gone from helping 600 people per year to 30,000, nearly one-third of whom are children.
So while you do your holiday shopping, I encourage you to do some extra “shopping around” and find an organization, cause or event that touches you.
One of my personal favourite Christmas events will come this coming Monday, when I join the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia to donate 900 pounds of wild, free-range and organic meat to the Salvation Army Food Bank.
As you can imagine, the ground bison, moose and venison will go a long, long way towards supplementing the Salvation Army’s Christmas Food Hamper Program, which exists to help families in need.
Of course, you don’t need to be a hunter to contribute to the Salvation Army. All you need is some spare change. If you see one of their “bell-ringers” (including me) around town, don’t be shy.
Steve Thomson is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Mission.