The KTW Christmas Cheer Fund helps to provide valuable financial support to a number of local non-profit organizations every year during the holiday season.
Every two years, a new group of organizations are chosen, but one group has remained year after year at the request of Gregg Drinnan, the longtime Kamloops Daily News sports editor who created the fund years after starting something similar in Regina.
That group is the Y Women’s Emergency Shelter.
The Y Women’s Emergency Shelter helps women and children escape violent and abusive situations and helps them transition to a new phase of life. And the support of the Christmas Cheer Fund, and the Kamloops community in general, is what allows them to do that work.
Most of the money from the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund went towards their grocery budget in 2019.
“We have a budget of $600 a week to feed the people who stay here,” explained Jacquie Brand, director of programs, violence against women intervention and support services.
“But we also have, we have a lot of kids with special need diets and other things, birthday celebrations and special days, and it’s really nice when we can actually go out and get the stuff that we need and that we want for the house.”
Consideration is also given to cultural and religious dietary requirements.
Lexa Smerdal, staffing and resource co-ordinator, said birthday meals are particularly important for the children staying in the shelter.
“We always want the women and kiddos to pick what they want for their birthday meal,” she said.
“And I think that being able to just kind of have that free reign of having their favourite food item or that comfort of food, because it is such an intimate part of our lives that just having that as an option is so important.”
Kamloops businesses have also been incredibly supportive of the Y Women’s Emergency Shelter in 2019.
For example, Royal LePage raised the money for a new shed before also coming in and assembling it for the shelter.
Also this year, the Kelson Group and Major Resolution Renovations helped to put together a new playground for the children staying at the shelter.
“That’s a job that they figure would probably, if they were contracted out, would take four to six weeks anywhere else,” Smerdal said.
“They literally tore down our old structure and put in a brand new structure in two days.”
Support from the community at large is just as important to the shelter. And while it might not be the most flashy or exciting of gifts, something they can always use are gift cards.
“When we have a mom who comes to the Christmas party, and her kids don’t have snow boots or a snow jacket, we can give them gift cards,” said Michele Walker, general manager of violence against women intervention and support services.
“And they can go and get what they need.”
Donations to the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund can be made directly at the KTW office at 1365B Dalhousie Drive or online at kamloopsthisweek.com/cheer.
Cutline: Artist Ken Wells was hard at work this week preparing the windows at Kamloops This Week’s Dalhousie Drive office for this year’s KTW Christmas Cheer Fund. Donations for the fund are being accepted online or at KTW’s office, 1365B Dalhousie Dr.