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Salmon Arm Rotary Club doubles donations for food bank, women’s shelter

Donation matching initiative raises $22,000 for SAFE Society, Second Harvest
The SAFE Society’s Jane Shirley, Paige Hilland and Jaylene Bourdon receive a cheque for $11,000 from Salmon Arm Rotary Club representative Christina Lutterman on July 13, 2020. The funds were raised through the club’s Double Up Your Gift campaign. (Contributed)

A Rotary Club of Salmon Arm fundraiser that sought to match donations for local causes wound up exceeding expectations.

On Monday, July 13, representatives of the club stopped by the SAFE Society women’s shelter and, later, the Second Harvest Food Bank, to drop off cheques for $11,000 at both locations.

The money was raised through the club’s month-long Double Your Gift initiave, which offered to match up to $10,000 in donations with money already raised by the club. Residents and businesses responded by providing $12,000 in donations.

SAFE Society executive director Jane Shirley said she was grateful for the donation, and for the support of all of Salmon Arm’s Rotarians who have stepped up during the pandemic to help support families connected with the society’s programs.

”We have been able to reach out and support many who are isolated and alone, providing additional delivered healthy food boxes, prepared meals , clothing, gas cards, toys, books and much much more because of the Rotarians in our community…,” said Shirley. “ The Rotary Clubs’ support brings happy tears, smiles, hope and virtual hugs from all those who receive and continue to receive.”

Rotary Club of Salmon Arm President Norm Brown said he was blown away by the community’s response.

“This community is really unbelieveable,” said Brown.

“We’d already given $5,000 to the Salvation Army and $5,000 to Second Harvest, and we had a couple of things that were cancelled… We knew that we needed some money for the food bank and we knew the SAFE house was in dire need as well, so we came up with the idea of going to the community and see if they would match it dollar for dollar.”

With restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic necessitating the cancellation of annual Rotary fundraising events for 2020, Brown explained the club had to look at alternative ways of raising funds for community projects.

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“We give $22,000 a year… to PACs for a lunch program,” said Brown. “We’ve been doing that for about five years. We really still want to do it if school is back in – we hope it is – so we’ll be going out to the community to help us raise that.”

Prior to the launching of the Double Your Gift fundraiser, Brown said the club spoke with the SAFE Society and Second Harvest and was told July and August would be a tough time financially.

“So this worked out really well,” said Brown, noting the club has also committed $20,ooo for the construction of a kennel at the SAFE Society’s shelter so that people can bring their pets. He said construction could begin this winter.

As pandemic restrictions continue, Brown said the club may look at other Double Your Gift-type iniatives to help raise funds. He is optimisitic the community will step up once more.

“I’m a Vancouver boy, I’ve been in Salmon Arm for 15 eyars, and I’ve just never been able to get over the generosity of this small town,” said Brown.

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Second Harvest Food Bank’s Cathy Ingebrigtson (left) and Vahlleri Semeniuk (right) receive a cheque from the Salmon Arm Rotary Club’s Christina Lutterman for $11,000, half of the funds raised by the club through its recent Double Up Your Gift fundraiser for the food bank and the SAFE Society women’s shelter, on Monday, July 13, 2020. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)