The holiday season is a time for generosity, caring and spending lots of cash, so when the new year rolls around, typically you see purse strings tighten.
But not here.
As a newcomer to Vernon (only four months), I immediately recognized the compassion and generosity in this community and it is absolutely mind-blowing.
In my short time here, I’ve already witnessed record-smashing funds raised at the Kalamalka Rotary Dream Auction in November — raising around $340,000 — and an incredible, short-notice barbecue fundraiser to help support firefighting efforts in Australia at SilverStar, raising more than $38,000.
And that’s just two examples.
Vernonites care deeply about helping others, here and abroad. That is evident.
The North Okanagan Gleaners continues to work hard every day collecting donations and selling used furniture to fund their soup production for countries in need.
Locally, Inspire Kindness Productions, operated by Coldstream teacher Melissa Jacobs, just gave away a van to a young family and hosted a movie night in support of six more local families.
I have also watched money pour in across several GoFundMe pages started for families displaced by house fires, burdened by medical emergencies and more.
In September, for example, a house fire destroyed a home near Silver Star Elementary School displacing a mother, her two children, and two downstairs tenants.
In a matter of days, the community rallied together, opened their hearts and generously donated more than $6,000 to those affected.
According to the GoFundMe page Thursday, a total of $9,250 of the $10,000 goal was raised for the woman and her two kids.
But it’s more than just cold, hard cash that Vernonites donate.
After that same house fire that displaced five, for instance, Vernonite Vicki Durocher decided to auction off some of her paintings and donate the proceeds to those affected.
She said she didn’t have any money of her own to donate but still wanted to help.
Here in the Morning Star office, we received several phone calls from readers offering up donations ranging from clothing to furniture and household items to those displaced. People wanted to help in any way they can.
It’s the little things, too. I see on various Facebook groups people thanking those in front of them at the drive-thru for paying for their morning coffee, or thanking a neighbour for shovelling their sidewalk or brushing off the car.
Often nowadays, people seem more disconnected or self-focused, but Vernonites’ seemingly endless generosity is a nice reminder that is not the case.
At least not here. Vernonites take care of each other, and their visitors, and it’s a pleasure to call this city home.