Tuesday April 22, 2014

'We are the little town that did'

Project honouring Clearwater couple leads with online votes in national charity-funding competition

Children at Raft River elementary school

As online voting begins for the Aviva Community Fund semi-finals, a project from Clearwater leads voting across Canada.

The Courtney and Skye Buck Memorial Courtyard project had received 3,416 votes by Tuesday after the semi-final phase of the funding competition began Monday.

That’s 1,000 more than the population of the town and there are seven days remaining during which supporters can vote for the project daily.

“We’re No. 1 amongst 92 projects across Canada,” said Shelley Sim, a parent advisory council member helping to organize the project slated for Raft River elementary. “We are the little town that did. We really are.”

The courtyard project honours the memory of the Clearwater couple, young teachers who were killed in a highway accident last year. Organizers are hoping the project will be awarded $100,000 to $150,000 — part of $1 million given to projects across the country — but they’re depending on online votes to strengthen the bid.

Another local project, from the Kamloops Child Development Centre proposing a Nature’s Own Playground, did not receive enough votes to proceed.

Mackenzie McLaren said their bid kept getting penalized for too many votes from the same computers and they lost as many as 150 votes a day.

“We got an automated reply on proxy voting,” she said. “We explained to them that we have a lot of low-income families and they don’t all have their own computers,” but there were no grounds for appeal.

Sim said it was unfortunate that the Kamloops project didn’t make it beyond qualifying rounds. There appears to be significant support for the memorial project, though.

“What it’s done is united the North Thompson valley in ways we never imagined,” she said, noting support received from TRU, MJB Lawyers, United Way and various other organizations in the region.

“It’s just a story that has inspired people and they see something positive coming of something that was so tragic,” Sim said. “If we can keep up the momentum, I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at it,” Sim said.

Eagle Bay Camp, a not-for-profit summer camp at Shuswap Lake, is also competing in the semi-finals, hoping to obtain $55,000 for a camp freezer/cooler.

Judging begins Dec. 18 and winners will be announced on Jan. 28, 2014. Each project is detailed on the Aviva website, avivacommunityfund.org, where votes are entered.

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