The votes have been tabulated.
The 2013 edition of the Daily News Christmas Cheer Fund will be shared by five local charities — the Kamloops Food Bank, the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice Home, the New Life Mission, the Kamloops United Church's PIT Stop program and the YMCA-YWCA Y Women's Shelter.
This is the 12th year for your Christmas Cheer Fund and, to date, you have given us $578,138, every penny of which has made its way to one local charity or another. Last year, we distributed an incredible $101,261 among five local organizations.
The Daily News picks up all administrative costs associated with operating the Christmas Cheer Fund. That means that we guarantee that every penny you donate goes to charity.
Bernadette Siracky, the executive director of the Kamloops Food Bank, points out that there's a lot more to her organization than people stopping by and picking up food.
For example, there's the FoodShare program that collects "close-dated perishable food items from 21 local donors and distributes them to 7,000 clients and 36 local agencies."
According to information supplied by Siracky, in 2012, the food bank collected 606,190 pounds of perishable food and 355,343 pounds of non-perishable food, and served 6,397 clients.
Wendy Marlow, the executive director of the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice Home, which opened its doors in 2004, says there are a number of projects underway, with funds needed for all.
This includes a portable intermittent suction unit that allows for nasal gastric suctioning; alternating mattresses, something that will relieve and prevent pressure sores; furniture for a new quiet room for patients and families; and the replacement of sofa beds in patient rooms.
"Funds donated will go directly toward the purchase of medical equipment and furniture . . . this will provide the opportunity to raise the level of medical support for our patients and comfort for the many families who spend many hours at Hospice with their loved ones," Marlow writes.
Meanwhile, Stan Dueck, the executive director of New Life Mission, notes the mission continues to serve lunch six days a week. The staff there has "seen the number of meals we serve daily go up significantly . . . to 80-100.
“We are seeing many more women in for lunch every day than we have seen in the past. We don't really know why, however we are trying to provide a safe place for anyone in need."
He added that more families are showing up to enjoy Saturday lunches.
"The need is not going away," Dueck noted.
PIT Stop is an outreach program of the Kamloops United Church (KUC) that, according to Diane Stuart, its co-ordinator, "provides free nutritious meals and caring support to marginalized, and street-entrenched persons in Kamloops. . . . The program is run entirely by volunteers."
And Stuart points out, PIT Stop is not religion-based.
"We welcome and encourage all those in need to participate in the program," she writes. "Despite being offered by a faith-based organization, KUC is not a proselytizing congregation. There is no requirement for any participant, guest or volunteer to become a member of the church or to subscribe to specific, or any, religious beliefs in order to benefit from or participate in PIT Stop."
PIT Stop has been with us since 2002. These days, the number of Sunday dinner guests runs anywhere from 80 to 180.
As for the Y Women's Shelter, this will be the 12th straight Christmas season in which your fund has supported it.
"The financial support has given us the ability to continue to provide critical support to women and children seeking shelter from violence and abuse," writes Michele Walker, director of Violence Against Women Intervention at the Y. "The Kamloops YMCA-YWCA believes that every woman and child deserves a safe place and an opportunity to live violence free.
"We believe that women and children when supported by their communities are more likely to successfully navigate the way to safety. We believe it takes a community to end violence against women and children forever."
The Christmas Cheer Fund selection committee comprises Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan; publisher Tim Shoults and Jo-Ann Lovesy of the finance department; Scott Huyghebaert of the Kamloops law firm Morelli LLP; Dean Nicholson of Investors Group Financial Services Inc.; and Larry Read, the sports information officer at Thompson Rivers University.
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You know it's time to get The Daily News Christmas Cheer Fund up and running when a note from Jim Doan arrives in your inbox.
Doan, the sensei at the Western Karate Academy, and his students helped out with $12,000 last year.
"I'm not enough of a dreamer to hope to beat last year's $12,000," he writes. "Anything over $5,000 is pretty exciting."
Their annual Kick-A-Thon is set for Dec. 4 and 5, and Doan notes that a parent has "donated a brand new Xbox 360 Disneyland edition as a prize. I'm betting that will light a few fires!"
Hotel 540 has offered a free family suite for a night as a prize for the student who collects the most pledges and there is a $100 gift card from Blue Restaurant. Doan expects more sponsors to climb on board as the month moves along.
And let's not forget that your Christmas Cheer Fund got off to a great start in July when Walmart gave us $10,000 during grand opening for its new supercentre.
So now we just have to keep it rolling, rolling, rolling . . .