Penticton firefighters got to take off their work boots for some time in the ball pit, as they presented a cheque to Penticton Excel, a non-profit that works with high-functioning autistic children. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Firefighters donate for safety equipment

Penticton Firefighters’ Charitable Society gave to Penticton Excel which works with autistic children

An annual donation from the Penticton Firefighters’ Charitable Society will be going toward some safety programs at a local non-profit that works with autistic children.

Kevin Zazzara with the society said they take in applications before deciding on which non-profit to donate their money to each year, and this year seemed a no-brainer.

“We asked them where the funds are going to go to, and then this one, it was very heartwarming,” Zazzara said of Penticton Excel, the group the firefighters handed a $500 cheque.

“So, they’re going to use them (funds) to go towards safety equipment and programming, first aid kits, safety vests, handheld stop signs and fire extinguisher training, which is exactly what we’re looking to support.”

Firefighters have also donated to Discovery House, the South Okanagan Women in Need Society, Muscular Dystrophy Canada just last week, and regularly donates to the hospital.

Children go to Penticton Excel everyday instead of attending regular school, according to executive director Carrie Ferguson.

“We focus on social skills, life skills, executive functioning skills, emotional regulation,” she said. “We do academics, but that’s not the primary focus. It’s really all the other stuff that people need to actually be successful in the real world.”

Ferguson said safety is a big part of Excel’s work, which is part of what made the group appealing to the firefighters’ charitable group.

“Our guys are really vulnerable to lots of different big, scary things out there, because they’re very trusting, and they don’t pick up on social cues,” she said.

“They get really excited and might not necessarily watch things crossing the street, so we have to, when we go out, which is daily, we have to make sure we’ve got a lot of extra safety stuff with us to make sure everyone’s nice and safe.”

Penticton Excel is still quite new — just entering year three — so Ferguson said the donation was “fabulous” for the non-profit group.


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