United Way was very proud to partner with Kamloops This Week on the 2014 Christmas Cheer Fund, which raised over $49,000! This article originally appeared on Kamloops This Week.
KTW Christmas Cheer Fund: 49,000 reasons to celebrate
The New Life Mission experiences the same thing every year — the donations flow in December but, right after Boxing Day, the cheques stop, said mission executive director Stan Dueck.
It’s not a criticism, but a reality of human nature.
Once the holiday season has passed, many families are focused on paying off their own pre-Christmas bills.
“That’s why getting this now in January is a big deal,” Dueck said of his organization’s share of the inaugural KTW Christmas Cheer Fund, which raised $49,666.50 and which, after administrative fees paid to the United Way Thompson-Nicola-Cariboo for creating and running an online-donation portal, led to four charities receiving $10,926.63.
Another reality the mission staff experiences is the annual increase in the number of meals it serves to the marginalized, the homeless and the working poor — more than 400,000 meals were served up last year.
The number’s not quite as large for another Cheer beneficiary — but Sensational Soups sees between 90 and 150 people sitting at the tables at Mount Paul United Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the volunteers who have been driving the program since it began about two years ago start ladling out their dishes.
For Delores Owen, manager of Sensational Soups, receiving one of the four cheques had her “still in shock,” she said. “We’ve never had a donation like this before.”
The program has run on a shoestring budget of donations — including plenty from the 29 volunteers who keep it going — so the money will go a long way for them, Owen said.
At the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice Home, the money will buy medical supplies and equipment needed to provide care for patients at the Whiteshield Crescent facility.
It’s an ongoing cost as medical supplies alone add up to about $1,700 a month, said hospice executive director Wendy Marlow.
“And that’s just general medical supplies, not the ones that are patient-specific,” she said.
The Y Women’s Emergency Shelter has been a recipient of a Christmas Cheer cheque for years, going back to when the fundraiser was started at the Kamloops Daily News by its sports editor, Gregg Drinnan.
Before he moved to Kamloops, Drinnan headed a similar campaign at the Regina Leader-Post.
Jacquie Brand, program co-ordinator at the Kamloops women’s shelter, said the money “makes a huge impact” for the round-the-clock facility and its programming for women and children.
The statistics tell the tale of the shelter’s need — 247 women and children called it home for a period of time last year and another 680 calls were received from women who needed help, but didn’t need to use the shelter itself.
KTW chose to partner with the United Way on the fundraiser because it felt people would use an online-donation website — and many did — and because it seemed proper to partner with another charity rather than a web-building business, said KTW publisher Kelly Hall.
The United Way charged a seven per cent administration fee for that work and, as people who buy things online know, there’s also a five per cent surcharge to use PayPal, the payment program linked to the United Way donation software.
United Way executive director Brenda Aynsley called the fund’s total a success for its first year.
She said the organization welcomed the “great opportunity to work with KTW and we really appreciated meeting new donors already committed to the Cheer Fund and the agencies it supports.”
News stories shouldn’t include personal observations but, in this case, it seems appropriate to thank all who supported the newspaper in its first KTW Christmas Cheer Fund campaign.
Community is priority No. 1 for KTW and the opportunity to share this with so many readers is deeply appreciated.