KELOWNA - Interest in helping the homeless appears to be reaching new highs since Canada announced it would attempt to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the year.
The move has created significant debate about Canada’s role in settling some of the millions of refugees escaping the Syrian civil war. It’s prompted dozens, if not hundreds of calls to help our own homeless before we help refugees. To do our part, we have created a handy guide of Kelowna-area organizations committed to helping the homeless and how you can donate.
With cold weather and the holidays approaching, all the organizations can use some extra help. Feel free to share this list with anyone who expresses a desire to help out at home.
CENTRAL OKANAGAN COMMUNITY FOOD BANK
The Kelowna food bank has been in operation since 1983 to offer emergency food for as many as 2,500 people every year, nearly one-third of those being children under age 16. In July 2015, it merged with the Westside Community Food Bank.
They are most in need of: Canned fruit and vegetables, canned soup, peanut butter, pasta, tomato sauce, baby diapers – size 5 and 6, baby formula, baby food and baby wipes. Cash is perhaps more important so the food bank can get food at deep discounts from partnering grocery stores.
Kelowna Branch 1265 Ellis St., Kelowna, B.C. V1Y 1Z7. Phone: 250-763-7161 fax: 250-763-9116 email@example.com
West Kelowna 2545 Churchill Rd., West Kelowna B.C. V4T 2B4. Phone: 250-768-1559 firstname.lastname@example.org
KELOWNA GOSPEL MISSION
The Gospel Mission provided more than 150,000 meals and provided beds nearly 26,000 times in 2013-14. The Mission uses Christian principles to guide its outreach to the homeless that goes well beyond food and shelter. For example, the Mission offers free dental work to homeless, the working poor and seniors, as well as work in addictions and operation of a Thrift Store.
You can find them at 251 Leon Ave., Kelowna, B.C., or through PO Box 22087, Capri P.O. V1Y 9N9 or call 250-763-3737.
INN FROM THE COLD
The Inn offers emergency overnight shelter for people living on the street from November to April. They take women and men on referral for 31 beds and four for emergency referrals. It’s a low barrier shelter, meaning they will take people with pets, couples, people without curfews and a location outside of downtown Kelowna.
They are looking for potential volunteers, cash donations or material donations. Send cheques to: PO Box 21130, Orchard Park P.O., Kelowna, B.C. V1Y 9N8. You can find out more by calling the 1829 Chandler St. office at 250-448-6403. The shelter is at 1157 Sutherland Ave.
NOW has been Kelowna’s front-line shelter and service provider for women since 1998. It specializes in taking women who may have addictions, mental health challenges or suffered abuse or sexual exploitation and taking them step by step back to independence. NOW has an emergency shelter, transitional housing and affordable independent living and a number of services throughout each stage. You can learn more about NOW Canada on its website or go directly to the donation page.
If you aren’t sure where you would like to donate, rely on the United Way. The United Way takes donations and distributes them based on community needs including addressing poverty. They scrutinize various charities and make sure they operate well within accepted standards. To find out how you can donate or get involved with the United Way, go to the website.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones at email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.