Realities of poverty necessitate holiday giving

GRM Inc. team with Paige, Payten and the United Way team.

United Way connects volunteers with local charities

Over 40,000 people in the Okanagan live below the poverty line, with 21% of households spending more than half their income on rent. Over 3,000 people accessed local food banks last year, 33% of them children under 15.

1,600 children in Central Okanagan elementary schools start their day with a donated healthy breakfast because they are not able to access one at home. We still have many minimum wage roles in our community, paying just $12.40 an hour while the “living wage” is considered $21 an hour. Throw in the holidays and the stress piles on, compounding other physical and mental health issues.

“The cost of living here in the Okanagan is high. Juggling competing demands from housing and food costs, to childcare and transportation, create challenges on a daily basis. The added pressure of the holidays can make it impossible and extremely stressful. We are all blessed to live in a caring and generous community that rallies to help each other in times of need,” says Helen Jackman, Executive Director of United Way CSO.

United Way recently connected one corporate donor, GRM Inc., with a single mom and her daughter to help give them a very special Christmas. Paige lives in a one-room basement suite and daughter Payten deals with a developmental delay in 3 areas, which means she requires more attention and support services to thrive and reach her full potential. GRM didn’t just shop randomly for gifts, but got to know the specific needs and desires of Mom & daughter in detail.

“We were able to extend a helping hand to two deserving families. Not only did we (hopefully) fulfill their modest wish lists, we were also able to provide grocery gift cards for each family too.” says Joan Bigford with GRM Inc.

Another great example of local love is the Pushor Mitchell United Way Day of Caring®. This year, Day of Caring initiatives resulted in 23 corporate and student groups tackling 50 charity projects involving 310 volunteers.

A group of UBCO students from the JDC West program volunteered at a Day of Caring for Karis Support Society, a home for women in recovery. They prepared and served the holiday dinner for the 50+ Karis residents, staff and alumni. Organized by United Way, the program connects volunteer groups with local charities who need a bit of extra help.

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