Several local businesses are driven to make the season brighter for women in need this Christmas.
Jim Tabler of Parker’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep said the longstanding car dealership is in full-gear on two initiatives that will help the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS).
Each year, the dealership does some sort of fundraising campaign for the community. In previous years recipients of donations included the Salvation Army and Inn from the Cold.
This year, the staff organized Jam the Ram, which is a catchy name for a toy drive, Tabler noted with a laugh. Over the last month many customers and staff have brought in toys for children that might not otherwise have a Christmas.
The other initiative sees $25 given to SOWINS for every test drive done at the dealership from the beginning of December to mid-month.
Tabler said this year their efforts to give back are touching the hearts of staff more deeply after the death of co-owner Colin Parker.
“He passed away a year ago. It was fentanyl, a drug overdose. With his passing and a little bit before that we really focussed on where we were giving support. SOWINS is near and dear to our heart,” he said.
Tabler toured SOWINS, learning about the different holiday programs earlier this year.
“Its one of those things if you can get down and ask them about the programs and really take the time to do it, you’re amazed at how hard these people work and the impact they have on the community. You really see how dedicated they are and that to me is a big thing.”
Debbie Scarborough, executive director for SOWINS, said without businesses like Parkers, Morrison Real Estate Group and Shoppers Drug Mart and support of individuals in the community, many women and their children would not have a Christmas.
“When I think about what gets done every year to help I get a little teary-eyed. I know what Christmas means to me and those I care about and if I didn’t have the means to give something to those that I care about it would be pretty depressing.”
Scarborough said there are many programs offered to help women and children throughout the holiday season. SOWINS is giving out 72 hampers to women that use their services. The hampers include presents for children.
“It’s amazing what people give. It’s something when mom comes to pick up the hampers and they see that there are five or six presents for the children on top of the groceries they receive. We tell them to give us a wish list for the kids and people fill that list pretty much.”
SOWINS also has a Santa Shop where new items are donated and women get to come in and pick out a present or children come in and pick out something for their mom. There are also backpacks filled with needed items for those living on the streets that are handed out. Scarborough said about 30 backpacks would be filled this year.
“We couldn’t do any of this without the generosity of this community,” she said.
Businesses still collecting for SOWINS include Morrison Real Estate Group. The real estate agency is collecting money and will match up to $1,000 in donations.
Shoppers Drug Mart also has a Fill a Shoebox campaign. Drop by the store for more information.