Christmas came early this week for a number of local non-profit organizations which assist other people in the communities.
Just over $27,000 was distributed as part of the proceeds from the Business Gives Back fundraiser.
“This year we raised over $84,000 in gross revenues in one lunch thanks to those businesses and the people who participated,” said Gitta Schoenne, who has chaired the organizing committee for nearly two decades. “We’ve given over $1.2 million back to the community in the 22 years we’ve been going.”
“It’s a chance for the business community to donate something representative of their business which may not be costly for them to do but that we can generate at least a retail income and sometimes even more,” said Schoenne. “The auction items we try to gear toward businesses such as advertising, so they can actually buy it and support charity, so it’s a win-win.”
While much of the group’s activities centre around the Christmas season, its work goes on year round. According to the committee chair, Business Gives Back assists others whenever help is required.
“We support families who are in immediate need of assistance, due to say a cancer diagnosis where their child has been diagnosed and all of a sudden they have to go to Vancouver and can’t work,” said Schoenne. “There are no hoops for them to jump through, nothing, we can have the cheque in their bank account the next day.”
In the past year that included paying the funeral costs for the family of eight-year-old Cody O’Connor of Oliver who died in September from injuries he received in a fire a few weeks earlier.
“I think that was very important because any other money the family received from the fundraiser they can keep because they lost everything,” said Schoenne. “It is just a great feeling knowing that we are able to help people like that when they need it most.”
In addition to the money given away each year, there is also an ongoing Business Gives Back legacy fund through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan which currently stands at about $80,000.
“The foundation invests the capital and the revenues generated are then donated to a charity of our choice every year,” said Schoenne. “The legacy fund will always be there and will continue to give back every year.”
Along with Schoenne, other organizing committee members are; Brian Cutler, Michelle Jamieson, Carolyn Kidd and Trevor Nelson.
The organizations that received help this year included: The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, Princess Margaret and Penticton Secondary School scholarship funds, Critteraid, Toys for Tots, the Soupateria, Salvation Army Food Bank, Dragonfly Pond Society, the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society, the Pen-Hi Breakfast program and the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.