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Okanagan charitable groups need support to keep helping less fortunate

Vernon’s Packman Opens Hearts is preparing to feed more than 60 people on Easter Sunday

Okanagan charitable groups are struggling as the task of feeding and helping the less fortunate continues to become increasingly challenging, amid inflation and other economic pressures.

But with those challenges comes the opportunity for folks to step up in support of the meaningful work that All Are Family Outreach Society and Packman Opens Hearts undertake on a regular basis.

All Are Family Outreach (AAFO) is a three-person operation serving people from Armstrong to Kelowna with food, medication funds, warm clothing and anything else they can provide. AAFO is used to operating on razor thin margins, but it’s in jeopardy of shutting down if it can’t manage to pay for insurance, tires and mechanical fixes to its van, which it uses to deliver food hampers and other donations.

“Without the van we have nothing, there’s nothing we can do,” said AAFO founder Clary Lausnes, adding at least $3,600 is needed to keep the van, that was donated by Eagle Rock Plumbing, running.

“We do everything with (the van) and the problem is we’ve had a non-stop increase in people coming in.”

Lausnes said AAFO had to forego its usual two-week January shut-down after Christmas because 26 people were still calling for hampers that month.

Lausnes admits there’s not a lot of glamour that comes with donating to AAFO — “You don’t get your face up on a wall somewhere” — but if the outreach is to continue providing five to six hampers a day, more donations will need to start coming in.

“If this keeps continuing, we’re going to have to shut down. It will just get to the point where we just won’t have food.”

Meanwhile, Tracey Griffin and husband Jimmy Miller of Vernon’s Packman Opens Hearts need all the help they can get to continue serving dinner to people living on the streets every Monday.

The couple who dedicate their time to helping others could use some help themselves, as Miller recently suffered a stroke and Griffin has since taken on much of their workload solo.

With funds donated through a GoFundMe campaign that has met nearly half of its $4,000 goal, the couple have been able to get back on their feet with full operation.

But more resources will soon be needed, as Griffin and Miller are now preparing to give out Easter Sunday dinner to more than 60 people. There will be an Easter bunny photo-op on Saturday, March 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Co-Op Gas Bar on 27th Street, where people can support the cause and leave with a photo and some goodies.

Volunteers are needed for the Easter bunny photo-op, anyone interested can message the team on Facebook.

“By donating just a few hours of your time, you can play a vital role in continuing our mission to support those less fortunate in Vernon,” reads a post on Packman’s Facebook page.

READ MORE: Group helping Vernon’s homeless desperate for donations

READ MORE: Okanagan outreach needs support for growing homeless population

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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