To the editor:
With the winter holiday season fast approaching it might be time to consider giving to the community in a meaningful way, whether it be giving your time or funds, to help people in need.
Donating funds to a charity, or a not-for-profit community service such as a food bank or shelter, can be one of the most meaningful and selfless acts a person can take. These much-needed charitable donations could be used to fill the gap left open when government agencies are not able to fulfil their mission of preventing homelessness and poverty.
Donating your time to fill boxes, make deliveries, cook or clean, build or fix something, drop something off, basically lending a helping-giving hand, are all ways to show you care and can make a difference in so many peoples lives. There are many ways to get that ‘Feel Good Moment’ through giving.
Recent statistics from the city of Kelowna show that 122,000 people live in the area with a current Census Canada report stating that 20% of those households in the Kelowna area are living near to, or below, the poverty level. It can be expected those people who barely manage to pay their rent will often rely on community services. [In the Capnews, Nov. 22, 2011,“ High child poverty rate sends message to new Kelowna city council”, Kathy Michaels reported that one in five children living in the Okanagan live in poverty].
Food Bank Canada states that 850,000 Canadians are assisted by food banks with approximately 370,000 of those helped being under the age of 18. Reasons for utilizing a food bank can be varied and might range from living solely on government income assistance, loss of a job, a family break up, major loss of income, unexpected lose of housing, not earning enough to be self sufficient to being new to the community or waiting for a job to start. Thankfully there are services within the communities, such as food banks and shelters, that can help these people by supplying them with nutritious food or a place to stay at no cost.
One of the Salvation Army’s information sites makes mention of 160,000 charities world wide. Given this high number, how does a person decide which charity to donate to when in the ‘giving mood’? How does a person know which charities are worthy, reputable and ‘honest’? If a person is going to be making a substantial donation the answer to those questions may not be that simple to find. One can go online, or make a phone call, to any registered charity and ask questions, get a sense of the charity’s integrity and make note of the charity’s transparency and accountability. Digging deep might help a person make a more informed decision but it could be time consuming and even frustrating.
Some people might give time or funds to charities and foundations because of a personal connection. A 2013 survey completed by moneysense.ca states that 70% of Canadian donors surveyed, people who gave money, chose a charity or cause because of a personal connection. Examples given are of a family donating to the Heart and Stroke Foundation because a parent died from a stroke and mentions a family donating to the Salvation Army and a Health Trust because a loved one died from complications due to a drug addiction. There are many fundraisers for Cancer research and Diabetes. One has only to look in the local paper or watch the news to know that there are fundraisers to help with research to fight illnesses.
Most people who donate to, or participate in, these worthy causes have someone close to them that is living with one of the illnesses or who has died from the illness. Overall, it could be stated that Canadians, and people in general, have a very giving nature and this is welcoming considering the need.
There are many local places, right here in the Okanagan, that really appreciate and need donations, especially at this time of year. Keeping the donation local can be the most meaningful given the fact that you can see your dollars at work.
For me, giving extra to the food banks this year will give me that feel good moment.
Terrie Anderson, Kelowna