KingFisher Boats staff members rally together to fill and distribute Christmas hampers to local families in need. The project, now in its second year, is organized through the business’s social committee and is funded through employee donations and fundraisers. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

KingFisher Boats staff members rally together to fill and distribute Christmas hampers to local families in need. The project, now in its second year, is organized through the business’s social committee and is funded through employee donations and fundraisers. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

Kingfisher employees give where they live

KingFisher Boats rallies behind local families

A Vernon watercraft manufacturer is spreading holiday cheer by making Christmas a little extra merry for 26 local families.

Through their volunteer-run social committee, employees at KingFisher Boats have raised more than $20,000 over the course of the year, which they used to create hampers filled with food and gifts for Okanagan-Shuswap families in need.

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The money used to purchase the items is raised primarily through employee fundraisers. Recipient families are selected by employees, who nominate those they know could use a boost during the holidays. Each hamper contains almost $800 worth of products, which includes a gift certificate for a turkey, groceries, gifts for children and a larger gift like a flatscreen TV or an iPad for the whole family.

Some lucky children will even be receiving bicycles.

The hampers are delivered to the recipient families by KingFisher employees a few days before Christmas.

Bobbie-Jo Thompson, production coordinator and member of the employee social committee, said the campaign started last year with 24 recipient families and was a huge success.

As the company continues to grow, she anticipates the campaign will expand and include more families. Both years, she noted, the company has given out hampers to every family nominated.

Thompson said the initial concept for the campaign came from owner Byron Bolton, and that it’s an extension of his generosity with his own employees.

“He’s a community guy,” she added. “But when he suggested it, it made sense and we all jumped on board.”

Bolton, who has lived in the community for 25 years, admits he does love living in the area and feels it’s important to give back but refuses to take credit for the idea, saying it’s a company-wide initiative.

“This is not a management-drive initiative, this is driven by about 150 people in our organization who care about this community.”

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