Charlotte Trifunov, 15 months, embraces the annual Be an Angel campaign at her Lake Country home this week.
Two of the key players in the Valley are the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs and the Okanagan's food banks. They now depend on the Be an Angel campaign for financial support and to get the word out about the great work they do in the community.
Numerous families profiled in an upcoming series of stories give a human face to those struggling to make ends meet. Each of us can "Be an Angel" at this special time of year.
The goal of the 17th annual Be an Angel campaign is $130,000. That will raise the 17-year total way beyond $1 million. Once again, the proceeds will buy all the goodies to stuff Christmas hampers for families in need. Those hampers will include a turkey and all the trimmings, as well as Christmas presents for the kids.
As part of the campaign, staff at The Daily Courier will help the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs fill hampers for families in need on Dec. 19.
"The Daily Courier's Be an Angel Christmas fundraiser needs your help more than ever this year. The reality is there's an increased need every year," said Publisher Terry Armstrong.
"Regular donations are down because of the economy, making our Be an Angel campaign even more important for the organizations that benefit: food banks and the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs."
Added Ed Kennedy, publisher of the Penticton Herald: "Unfortunately, there are a lot of families struggling to make ends meet in the Penticton area, so our Be an Angel campaign helps give those families a leg up at this time of year."
"We are in an era of hard choices for parents," said Craig Monley, chief executive director of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs.
"With the economy still in a slump and the rising cost of goods and services, disposable income has vanished for many, many families," Monley said, "leaving them with little more than a few dollars to cover the basic necessities and hard conversations about anything additional, usually resulting in 'We'll have to wait.'"
Kids have learned - too young in many cases - to "not ask" for those additional things because they know and feel how difficult it is right now for their parents, he said.
"Christmas does come at exactly the right time of the year. When the spirit of Christmas moves us to be generous to others, we respond to extend a helpful hand, to unselfishly give to those among us who are struggling in hard situations, to become angels of generosity and goodwill. Join us in the gift of giving. Be an angel."
"Child poverty in the Central Okanagan is disgraceful," said Vonnie Lavers, executive director of the Kelowna Community Food Bank.
"It remains higher than the provincial average of 23 per cent in 2010. One in seven students in Kelowna attends school hungry. Hungry children face many lifelong disadvantages. Child hunger is consistently linked to poorer health and social outcomes. Proceeds from the annual Be an Angel campaign support our children's nutrition programming at Christmas and throughout the year," she said.
"Last year, we helped over 11,000 vulnerable children receive adequate nutrition, as outlined in Canada's Food Guide, including milk, eggs, cheese and fresh produce."
At the Salvation Army's Penticton Community Food Bank, community ministries director Christine Simmons said: "With approximately 800 hampers being distributed through our Christmas hamper program, the funds that are collected through the Be an Angel campaign certainly go a long way to help us purchase food and toys so that we can make Christmas a little brighter for those we serve."
You can donate to Be an Angel in four ways:
1. Drop by The Daily Courier's office at 550 Doyle Ave. weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or the Penticton Herald office at 101-186 Nanaimo Ave. W. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to donate cash, a cheque, or by debit or credit card.
2. Donate by credit card online at kelownadailycourier.ca or pentictonherald.ca by clicking on the Be an Angel logo on the home page.
3. Donate at any Valley First Credit Union branch.
4. Donate using your credit card by calling The Daily Courier at 250-470-0776 or Penticton Herald at 250-492-4002.
With your donation, your name or your company's name will be recognized in The Daily Courier and Penticton Herald. All donations over $20 will receive a tax receipt.