SOWINS wants everyone to share the spirit of giving

Share the Spirit hamper campaign for the 11th year in a row providing gifts and basic necessities for single women and families in the area.

Sheila Robertson (left) and Bethany Handfield of the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS) watch as Suzanne Lougheed creates one of the reusable bags for the organization’s annual Share the Spirit campaign that will contain care packages for women having difficult times. They will be given out again this Christmas.

Sheila Robertson (left) and Bethany Handfield of the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS) watch as Suzanne Lougheed creates one of the reusable bags for the organization’s annual Share the Spirit campaign that will contain care packages for women having difficult times. They will be given out again this Christmas.

Individuals, businesses organizations and schools in Penticton have a chance to share the spirit of giving with those in need this holiday season.

The South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS) is holding its Share the Spirit hamper campaign for the 11th year in a row providing gifts, groceries and basic necessities for single women and families in the area.

Last year the campaign helped nearly 200 women and children with donations from the community. Those looking to contribute can help out by sponsoring a family or single woman and helping complete a wish list submitted to SOWINS

Shelia Robertson has been working at SOWINS for 20 years and has seen the generosity of the community steadily increase when it comes to Share the Spirit.

“The part that has grown is the donations that are dropped off to us,” Robertson said.

Robertson said that in the last few years the amount of donations without a sponsor have increased, allowing SOWINS to open up a store of sorts where women in need can pick out items such as gift cards, personal care products, gifts and toys for free during a financially difficult time of year.

This is the first year the campaign will include a drop-off box for any donations big or small at Valley First Insurance.

Robertson said these donations are particularly helpful for women or families who have only recently arrived, are about to leave transition home services or haven’t been involved with SOWINS services long enough to be sponsored.

“This way we can still help her out by letting her come and pick out some products for her children,” Robertson said. “Sometimes they’re leaving the transition house so this can help with Christmas, but also to set up her new home.”

Gift cards and grocery vouchers can be a particularly helpful donation for families in need, especially families with teenagers who are often hard to buy for.

“If you don’t have a lot for your family, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to go out and pick something new for yourself,” Robertson said.

Having been involved with the campaign for the past decade, Robertson has seen many women helped by the generosity of the community.

“I’m always there at Share the Spirit when they come to pick up their hampers,” said Robertson. “I see women break down and they cry. The generosity of some of the hampers is amazing.”

Robertson has been fortunate enough to see the joy of many who have received donations, including one family who was one of the last stops on her delivery route. When she arrived at the families home with multiple boxes of gifts and food, the effect of the spirit of giving was evident.

“In the corner there was a tree and there was nothing under that tree. The kids, when they saw me come in with these gifts. Just the looks on their faces, it was a wonderful last day for me. Seeing how much that mattered to the family,” Robertson said.

Those interested in sponsoring a family can phone 250-493-4366 ext. 102 and ask for Liz or email sharethespirit@sowins.com. Donations can vary in size and SOWINS will help match up families with those looking to sponsor.

For more information on SOWINS visit www.sowins.com.