Chelan McKenzie was beaming as she loaded six big boxes into her truck Monday morning, Aug. 8.
A licenced practical nurse with the Okanagan Indian Band, McKenzie was picking up new car seats earmarked for band residents as part of the Child Safety Initiative with United Way B.C.
“This is an initiative where we ensure everyone has access to safe child seats,” said the United Way’s Kristi Rintoul. “It’s an essential service so it’s important to make sure their babies are safe.”
Through the contributions of funding partners The Paul Docksteader Foundation, Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and Central Okanagan Foundation, the United Way initiative was able to purchase $70,000 worth of child car and booster seats.
The seats are distributed through an application process from United Way’s community partners.
“We use more than 20 charities throughout the Okanagan to help us figure out who needs them the most,” said Rintoul. “A large contingent (of seats) will be going to First Nations communities and Indigenous families. We are leaning on the knowledge of our community partners to tell us who needs them the most.”
Seats are being distributed in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton.
The initiative also gets help from safety sponsors Two Small Men With Big Hearts and Secure-Rite, along with sponsorship from Vernon Canadian Tire and Kootenay Savings as the project is expanding into that region of the province.