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Giving back to community lights fire in Penticton's Lee’s kitchen

Michelle Lee of Lees Overseas restaurant tosses some fiery delights over the burner as husband John watches from a safe distance. All of the proceeds from Tuesday’s lunch sales were donated by the couple to the Canadian Food for Children organization to help ease the suffering of the poor in developing nations. - Mark Brett/Western News
Michelle Lee of Lees Overseas restaurant tosses some fiery delights over the burner as husband John watches from a safe distance. All of the proceeds from Tuesday’s lunch sales were donated by the couple to the Canadian Food for Children organization to help ease the suffering of the poor in developing nations.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Helping the needy around the world is a daunting task but for a local group it starts by saving one child at a time.

Whether it is mending clothes, packing bandages for hospitals or helping fundraise, members of the Penticton branch of Food for Children do whatever they can to achieve their goal.

To that end, volunteers recently rolled up their sleeves to help with a special lunchtime event at Lee’s Overseas Delights restaurant on Westminster Avenue.

In a matter of only three hours they managed to raise nearly $3,000 working with owners John and Michelle Lee and members of the their staff.

The Lee’s had approached the organization with the idea, pledging to donate all of the proceeds from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., if the group would help out.

“I’d never been in a restaurant kitchen before and we were cooking and plating and getting the boxes ready for them to send out and the girls were waiting the tables, it was just a lot of fun,” said president Joanne Martin of the Peach City CFC chapter.

“We were all really surprised at just how much money we raised in such a short time, even the owners were.

“Michelle called after she counted the money and was just so excited.”

The national organization is a non-government, not-for-profit agency which helps people in over 30 developing nations around the world.

In addition to food and emergency supplies, the group also puts together special containers for specific needs such as leprosy, disaster relief, school and sports supplies.

The Penticton chapter of CFC has about 30 to 40 members, mostly seniors, and while not a high-profile agency, has done a lot during the past 18 years to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

For that the president credits the assistance of the people who support their efforts through donations made at events like the one at Lee’s.

“Our community is very, very generous,” said Martin. “The people really stepped up to the plate to help us. It just seems like everyone who can help, helps. I think it gives everyone a great feeling to be able to help those less fortunate.”

She extended that appreciation to Lee’s, for their offer to help without being asked.

But according to Michelle Lee, who only found out about the local group a couple of weeks ago, she and her husband didn’t think twice about offering.

“I really appreciate the town supporting this organization (CFC) and really supporting us for the last 18 and half years in this business,” said Lee.

“We want to give something back to the people and help other people around the world that need it.

“God has blessed us so much and we want to bless others, that’s the whole idea. We want people to know about this organization (CFC) let the community know they are here and are doing good things for the people.”

The Lee’s are no strangers to helping the less fortunate, regularly holding events to help raise money for disaster relief work in areas like China, the Philippines and other countries.

For Martin, the dividends she and the other volunteers receive at the end of the day in personal satisfaction more than make up for their efforts.

“It is overwhelming that there are so many people who need help but  if you save one person then it is worthwhile and we’ve saved a more than a few and have the pictures to prove it,” she said.

Anyone who would like more information about the group or its work can contact Martin at 250-493-5998 or visit the office at 1132 Commercial Way.

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