Oliver’s backbone – by Pat Whalley
Oliver is a very small community with a very big heart. The backbone of the community are it’s various service clubs and community groups. The Gleaners, is a huge group of volunteers from our own and many other communities who come to Oliver for a few days in summer. Instead of spending all day basking in the sun or swimming in local lakes, these volunteers chop and dry fruit and vegetables at the Okanagan Gleaners facility. The dried soup mixes are then sent to third world countries for distribution to hungry people with a limited amount of access to food. Truly a lifesaver to thousands of hungry people.
Nearer to home is the Food Bank. These volunteers purchase and distribute boxes of food to those who cannot afford to buy their own groceries due to loss of employment or such a poor wage that it is a choice of paying rent or buying food. I am pretty sure that there are lots of proud people who will not take food from the food bank as they feel it is rather shameful to be in need, but isn’t that what community spirit is all about, people helping people,
There are so many worthwhile groups in our town, the Kiwanis who work so hard to provide scholarships, and make donations wherever they feel help is needed. They also help out the Aktion club which is a large group of special needs people who, due to the Kiwanis, enjoy a much richer quality of life. One hard working member of the Kiwanis collects thousands of cans and bottles, every week, from hotels and individuals. She then takes them to the bottle depot and gets cash which she turns in to the group to buy team uniforms for every sport that they are involved with. This great group of people have a very rich life which includes so many different sports and activities, all under the watchful eye of coaches and other workers. However, all the Aktion Club meetings are ran by the members themselves and they truly learn to be useful members of the community.
The Rotary, Legion, Knights of Columbus, Lions and Elks and so many more clubs who help out at home and overseas to provide a better quality of life for people who otherwise may miss out on a lot. Think also of the hundreds of people who assist at youth groups, cadets, scouts, youth ambassadors and similar, just to make sure that the young people of this town get as much out of life as is possible.
I know it is a bit of a nuisance when every week there is some fund raiser or other taking place, all for very worthy causes but also biting into our grocery money, it seems that everyone has their hand out for some good cause. Personally, I think of it as insurance, maybe if I can donate some time for other’s needs and welfare then, should I fall into dire straits, maybe someone will be there to help me.
As a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, the main goal of our fundraising is to help people who suffer from cancer. We are related to the Masons who also have cancer as their main charitable objective. The men buy and maintain the Cancer Van. There are actually many of these vehicles in BC, four of them in the Okanagan Valley, and they do a daily run to the various cancer clinics. The south Okanagan van picks up patients from Osoyoos to Peachland and takes them to the cancer clinic five days a week for treatments. No charge is made for this service and the drivers are all volunteers. The drivers are mainly Masons, but anyone interested can help out with a days driving. This service makes a very scary disease easier to manage and, as most treatments last for six or seven weeks, having free transport is a big help.
The Eastern Star raise funds through teas, dinners and barbecues. The bbq’s are usually for a specific purpose like the one a couple of weeks ago to raise funds for a Buy Low employee who was very sick. Unfortunately this man succumbed to his disease but the funds raised were passed to his partner to use for necessary expenses. On July 1st, as we all celebrate /Canada’s 150th birthday, we will be holding a bbq, at Buy Low to raise funds for the South Okanagan Women in Need. This service should hot be necessary but unfortunately it is very much needed.. So many unfortunate women have to leave their home due to violence or other abuse. Quite often they have to leave in a hurry taking their children and very few belongings and they need a safe place to live while they decide what to do. The safe house is that place to go to find shelter and assistance.
Please help us help them by buying a hot dog and making a donation. 10.00am until 2.00pm on Canada’s birthday, outside Buy Low. The store is generously donating all supplies for this so please come and have lunch with us and be thankful that you are not one of those women who need your help.