Generosity in the Elk Valley – the givers

A two-part feature focusing on the many groups and businesses that give, and those who benefit

The Elk Valley is made up of individuals and organizations that support each other when they need it the most.

To Katrin Taylor of the Elk Valley Thrift Shop Society, supporting each other comes naturally in a town like Sparwood. She said the reason they give is simple.

“There are people in need and even the smaller clubs that we help have a hard time finding people that will donate to them,” she said.

Taylor said the society offers immediate support to those clubs and organizations that may not have the time or resources to apply for grants. Personally, she loves giving back.

“It makes me feel good,” she said, laughing.

The society has achieved its goal of donating $100,000 back to the community since it moved to its new Sparwood premises in November last year.

“I said we’re going to do $100,000 in one year, you just watch us,” said Taylor. “And we did.”

This money has helped over 50 causes, one of them being the victims of the Ponderosa Manor fire in August.

“Everybody on this team, we’re all volunteers, we all work very very hard. So obviously we’re all caring people that love giving,” she said.

“It’s so awesome when you give help to, say the apartment fire victims, or for the diabetes association that needed some help. The kids breakfast programs, we’re big supporters of that. They’ve said without us giving them the money, there wouldn’t be breakfast programs for them.

“We’re able to do so many different things, and I think that’s a big thing about the thrift shop.”

For Legion Branch 36 President Jeannie Watson, giving back is second nature; it’s just the thing to do.

“It’s important, not everybody has what everybody else has,” she said.

“That’s what we’re here for, to support veterans, seniors and youth, and we do whatever we can to support them.”

Throughout the year, the Legion gives back to the community through bursaries, scholarships and donations to the food bank.

“Anything we can do to help out in our little corner of the world,” said Watson.

Watson added that giving back to the community shouldn’t just be something you do at Christmas time. “I think it’s important all the time,” she said. “You shouldn’t just have one or two days a year, I think you should be doing it whenever you can.”

Staff at the Fernie Brewing Company (FBC) know firsthand the positive impact that organizations such as Fernie Friends for Friends have on their community.

Every June, the brewery makes a donation to the not-for-profit organization, which supports people with cancer. FBC supports many causes in the Valley but Friends for Friends is the only group it donates to annually.

“Our former brewmaster, Gord Demaniuk, passed away from cancer, and they (Friends for Friends) were really good to him,” said FBC marketing and communications manager, Lenka Hawrys.

Hawrys and her team have made it their goal to donate a portion of FBC’s profits back to the community through the Cheers to Charity program. Since December 2013, the brewery has shared $107,050 between 30 organizations in the mountain town.

Throughout the year, it supports charities, projects and organizations for four to eight weeks at a time. Donations equal around $5000.

FBC is currently raising funds for the Fernie Wranglers Cabin, with the Griz Days fundraiser just around the corner. Previously, they have donated to the Fernie Pride Sociey, Elk River Alliance, Fernie Friends for Friends, The Old Type Music Society, Fernie Friends for Refugees, Fernie Community Fund, Fernie Flow Trail, and Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Association.

Hawrys said she sees people support each other all the time in Fernie.

“(Fernie) is so about community,” she said. “Maybe it is that small town feel; everywhere you go, you know people, you recognize people, and you’re really connected to the people in your town, and the organizations.

“As a group, all of us use the trails. We fish in the river. We have friends who have been impacted by cancer. Everything really touches you.”

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