The Rice Box Wokathon is back for its eighth year Sunday. All proceeds, including the staff donations of the day’s wages, will be split between the Build a Clubhouse Campaign and projects in Cambodia for education and loans for small businesses.
“This reminds me of where my roots are and where I grew up. My brother and I were selling fruit when we were five and six in the refugee camp in Thailand to help have a little more money for food for our family. We know how it feels to have nothing and now we have so much in Canada,” said On Ouch, owner of The Rice Box. “Vernon changed our lives in 1989 when our family was sponsored by All Saints Anglican Church.
We had been turned down by New Zealand, the United States and the U.K. because we were a large family and my parents were farmers and had no special skills. Canada allowed my parents to work to raise us and for us to succeed and have a better life for our children.
“People ask us why we give so much. It is to be thankful and to encourage others to take the opportunities here for the lives they want.”
Ouch’s vision for Vernon and for Cambodia inspires community volunteers to get behind him every year for the Wokathon.
Jody Shenher, owner of 27th Street Florist, which is in the same building as The Rice Box, has donated space in her shop for the silent auction and for pick-up of orders.
“On is a really positive inspiration to me and, I know, to a lot of people. He always sees the good in people and I’m happy to have the chance to help out with the Wokathon,” she said.
Ouch’s father, Ath Ouch, will be in the kitchen, Adrienne Harris of Portico Properties has helped with a plan to improve efficiency, volunteer fire fighters are in their third year overseeing order pick-up and payment, Crunch Time Market of Armstrong is donating vegetables, and Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund will also be busy.
Ouch is already teaching his daughters, Aleeya, eight, Ava, four, and Kara, two, the importance of giving back to their community. They’re helping with cleaning the front of the store and filling up the pop coolers.
“We could not do this without the many, many people who are so generous each year. People are giving from the heart and when you give from the heart you get so much,” said Ouch. “We have some great silent auction items and can use some more.” Items or gift certificates are welcome. Ouch is planning to bid on the wagon for his children and he said there are items for all interests.
Lloyd Mitchell, who was part of the group of people at All Saints Anglican Church welcoming the Ouch family, often orders from The Rice Box and is happy to see the family’s acheivements.
“The family wanted to be part of the community and to work and take part in things right from the start,” said Mitchell. “The parents set a very good example and all of the children are successful, contributing citizens. They took the opportunities that were here for them and now they help provide opportunities for others.”
Ouch keeps learning. He has taught himself to make videos for his business and others and plans to organize a school to teach these and other computer and business skills to youth in Cambodia. He visits Cambodia, where he has relatives, regularly and is in touch with what is needed. He has a number of videos on YouTube.
“I think God gave us this life for a reason, to help others and to give hope to others. One of my favourite quotes is by Winston Churchill: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’”
The Wokathon presents a special menu, with on-line orders at ricebox.com recommended (walk-ins welcome) and no phone orders for this busy day. The Wokathon takes place from noon to 7 p.m. with the silent auction ending at 6 p.m. Ouch suggests that the least busy time to get an order is generally between 2 and 4 p.m.