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Vernon thrift store wraps first place in van contest

Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store wins 2023 Fox Plumbing Heating Wrap a Van for a Cause promotion

Gena Barzan was shocked to find she had won a contest from an electrical company.

Barzan is a director for the Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store in Vernon, the 2023 winner of Fox Plumbing Heating Cooling Electrical’s Wrap A Van for a Cause. Fox wraps one of its service vans with a charity or non-profit organization’s logo for the entire 2023 calendar year, with five per cent of revenue generated by that van going directly to the charity selected for the entire year.

Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store is the 2023 chosen one, and Barzan, managing director Dale Christie, and five of the store’s nine volunteers were on hand at Fox Feb. 16, for the unveil.

“This is a big deal for us, a huge deal,” said Barzan. “This is going to go to the disaster fund. The five per cent this van will generate will go into a fund to help support during disasters – floods, fires, whatever, we won’t have to make an immediate plea like we did in the last wildfire (White Rock Lake, 2021).

“It went absolutely nuts. There was no contingency, but the local communities came together and we put together tons of animal feed and cages. You name it, we had it, ready to go within three hours.”

Figuring out which charity or non-profit will be the benefactor is the best part of the promotion, said company owner Ted Fox, who announced the winner. Nominations from the public began Oct. 31 with up to 32 nominated organizations being accepted. The field was set and a tournament-style bracket was built for head-to-head voting.

Voting kicked off Nov. 28 through Fox’s social media platforms.

“It was a crushing success this year,” said Fox, decked out in a Fox Plumbing Heating Cooling Electrical hockey sweater with the organization’s blue and orange colours prominent.

“I know in one round we got close to 70,000 votes. It was an incredible amount of the community coming together to support and vote.”

Barzan said she didn’t know her organization was even in the contest until the semifinal round.

“We made fourth round and a customer came in and said, ‘Congratulations you guys, you’ve made the fourth round of Wrap a Van,’ and I had no idea what they were talking about,” she laughed. “I looked up the contest and had no idea.”

Voting ended Jan. 13.

Also on hand Thursday was North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy, the 2022 winner. Fox said supply chain and shipping problems were evident in 2022, from finding simple household items to ordering large parts for repairs, so the company decided it wanted to do something special for the North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy and have their van run again in 2023.

Fox and his wife, Sue, presented Chaplain Chuck Harper and executive assistant Cheryl Gustavson with a cheque for $3,500, the five per cent of profits produced by the van.

“We are happy to say we will be rolling that again this year for North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy,” said Fox.

The top three runners-up in Wrap a Van for a Cause in 2023 – Shuswap Paws Rescue Society, P.A.D.S.– Pacific Assistance Dogs, and Halina Activity Centre – will all receive a $500 donation from Fox Plumbing Heating Cooling Electrical.

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Vernon’s Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store is the winner of the 2023 Fox Plumbing Heating Cooling Electrical’s Wrap A Van for a Cause contest. The 2022 winners, North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy, get the use of a van for a second straight year after mechanical issues in 2022. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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