Special personalities and generous sponsors came together last Thursday night and raised $22,600 for Princeton charities, including $7,000 for the Princeton and District Community Services Society (PDCCS).
Weyeraheuser was a major contributor to the project, donating $15,000.
The Fifty Impactful People of Princeton fundraiser, held by the Community Foundation of South Okanagan Similkameen, was a satisfying success, according to Kim English, who organized the event along with councillor Barb Gould.
“Earlier this summer, Barb and I spoke about the impact that Covid-19 is having on our local charities, especially as they grapple with how to provide services to the community amidst a pandemic. With more unplanned costs, with completely unexpected challenges, plus, without the people power to hold their annual fundraisers, we saw charities are in greater need for donations than ever before.”
The fundraiser was held outside, at the Princeton airport, to give attendees enough space to social distance.
Swag bags that included prizes, masks and hand sanitizer were distributed, and food and beverages were provided by Little Creek Grill and Peller Estates.
Three charities were invited to attend and make a short ‘pitch’, hoping to take home the first-place share of the $2,600 raised through ticket sales and a contribution from Fortis B.C.
Every ticket purchaser – with some participating via zoom – was able to vote for their charity of their choice.
The Princeton Seniors Centre was represented by Carolynne Munk, who explained the centre is “a safe place for seniors to come and socialize.” The group organizes games, exercise classes, bingo, and community dinners, and makes drop by coffee and lunch available. Munk said the centre wished to receive money to purchase an improved air flow system.
Kim Vokey, president of Princeton Crisis Assistance, told the gathering that COVID has hit operations hard. Crisis Assistance is funded by its thrift store, which had to close for several months at the beginning of the pandemic.
It provides emergency shelter, food and supplies for those in need, and runs the town’s Christmas Hamper program, which assists about 140 families each year.
“I believe the need for hampers will be even greater this year,” said Vokey. “The hampers will get done this year but it’s possible we may have to (modify the program.)”
PDCSS executive director Becky Vermette and Jess McIvor, a long-time client of the society’s New Beginnings program, spoke on behalf of their latest endeavour.
New Beginnings recently found a new location, provided by the Town of Princeton, but the building needs renovations, furniture and supplies. The day program assists adults living with disabilities in many aspects, providing programming, entertainment and opportunities to socialize.
McIvor, well-known in Princeton as an artist, earned applause when she made an impassioned plea.
“Our New Beginnings is amazing,” she said. “I’m begging you. We need a lot of money to renovate…Please, please vote for us.”
And they did.
PDCSS was originally awarded $2,000 as the winner, with the seniors and crisis group taking $300 each.
At the close of the evening, English announced that Weyerhaeuser had pledged $5,000 to each of the charities, meaning everyone could fulfill their goals. An anonymous foundation donor matched $5,000 of the monies raised for the Princeton Community Fund.
“This means, together, we raised $22,600 for four charities. That’s major impact.”
Gould said she hopes the Impactful People fundraiser will become an annual event. “I am always so amazed how this community comes together, to help others,” she said.