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Charity valet at the mall

Update 5 p.m.

Castanet has been informed that Orchard Park Shopping Centre has pulled their partnership with the organizers of the valet, due to weather and spacing concerns. Organizer Ben Calder says he is working towards negotiating a win-win for all parties and hopes the project can go-ahead as planned.

However it does not appear there will be valet parking at the mall for Black Friday as anticipated.
 


The cold weather shuffle, armed with multiple gift bags in hand, is a familiar story to Christmas shoppers. But this season might be a little easier with some Okanagan residents helping out around the holidays.

Ben Calder is teaming up with Saxx entrepreneur Trent Kitsch, his wife Ria and the Orchard Park Shopping Centre to provide a charity valet parking service during busy mall hours over the Christmas season.

Starting this Friday, Nov. 21, from 4 to 9 p.m., the team will be located in front of the Shoppers Drug Mart entrance facing Highway 97, and they will have a special area sectioned off to park vehicles.

It will cost five dollars cash (there is a service fee for those who use credit/debit) to have your vehicle valet parked, with part of the proceeds going to the Central Okanagan Hospice Association for this Friday’s event, and various different charities for the rest of the holiday season.

Kitsch pitched the idea to Calder, who is an Okanagan College business student, with the hopes Calder would take the reins and make the ‘Charity Valet’ a reality.

“He really wanted to give an opportunity to a young entrepreneur who he trusts to help him with this project,” explains Calder. “He is also hoping to employ other Okanagan College or UBCO students this holiday season to help with the valet.”

Charity Valet kicks off this Friday, but won’t really get underway until November 28 -- also known as Black Friday.

Dates for Charity Valet are:

  • November 28, 4-9 p.m.
  • November 29-30, 1- 9 p.m.

The team hopes to finalize a lengthier schedule as the holiday season progresses and they will soon have a Facebook and Twitter feed under Kelowna Charity Valet.

“We will also have a waiting area inside between Shoppers Drug Mart and Chapters, so when you’re ready to pick up your vehicle you don’t have to wait in the cold,” says Calder.

If you’re interested in becoming a valet driver this holiday season and help raise funds for Okanagan charities please contact Calder at: [email protected]



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Gospel tackles record levels of need

Breaking this record was bittersweet for Randy Benson. 

The executive director of the Kelowna Gospel Mission oversaw programs that fed more than 151,000 people in 2014. That's between 400 and 500 meals per day - more than ever before. 

Benson said there are two reasons the numbers are getting higher.

"It's a reflection on how widespread the need is out there. I think we're seeing more people come that are housed; that are not homeless but are at-risk of being homeless and their budgets just don't stretch, so to come for a meal really helps them out. It's also reflective of the fact that people realize that the Mission is a safe place to come to, so they feel more comfortable coming down." 

In addition to meals, more than 25,000 people took advantage of the Mission's overnight beds this year.  

Servicing more people was only possible by breaking the budget record as well. 

"We've had an increase in services and also an increase in funding," Benson said. "We've been close to $4 million for the last few years but, if you look at it specifically, this is probably our highest budget year."

This year the Mission raised $4,169,121. The largest proportion of that came from cash donations, with funding from BC Housing and donated goods and services taking second and third place. 

"I look at those figures, I shake my head and go 'wow, how are we able to do this?' But it's a reflection of the good people of Kelowna and the support that we have." 

With the additional funding, the Mission has been able to expand its dental clinic from two to five chairs. December is booked solid and they're making appointments for the new year already. 

"The good news is we're not booked three months out, we are booked, but we're catching up." 

For 2015, Benson said the Mission is trying to open up space for ground level services, where their biggest need is. 

"We're working on the possibility of moving our thrift store. Once we move that, that will increase dining room and drop-in room to give more breathing room for the services we do. That's the immediate plan at this point." 



Mystery found in church wall

When the members of St. Paul’s United Church decided to begin a demolition of their 60-year-old building for a new development, they weren’t expecting any surprises hidden in the stones, but that's exactly what they found.

As the team pulled the original 60-year-old cornerstone from the building, a mystery time capsule was found hidden behind it.

Church representative Sue Goodwin says the church found the stone while preparing for a ceremony in which they would celebrate the new development, while also recognizing the past.

“We thought it would be nice to have a ceremony to sort of mark this milestone while at the same time respect the fact that the church has been on this property for 60 years, and that it might be an emotional day for some of the longer term congregational members,” explains Goodwin.

To give it the proper respect, they decided to hold a 'breaking the brick' ceremony. The plan was to ceremonially remove the cornerstone that was put there in 1957, take photos and celebrate the future. 

“We thought we should prepare the cornerstone first. So we brought some masons in to get the stone taken off the building,” says Goodwin, who notes the plan was to get it all ready, put it back in the area without cement and then stage it for the photos.

“But, that didn't work out,” she laughs. “When they took it off the building, lo and behold, they found a time capsule hidden in the back of it.”

She says no one knew the capsule was there, who put it there, or what is in it.

“We actually had people there on the day of, a number of members of the church in attendance that have been members for 45-50 years and they had no idea that was even there, so it was a surprise to them as well.”

The cornerstone had actually been ground out in the back and a 12-inch by 12-inch rectangular metal time capsule was hidden in the stone.

“It's been welded shut all the way around and we need to find a way to get it open, so we've been talking to quite a few consultants to figure out how to open it without damaging what is inside,” explains Goodwin.

Of course everyone is anxious to find out what’s hidden in the mysterious 60-year-old box, but there is no set date to open it.

“I don't know when we are going to open it and I know we were asked to open it right there,” laughs Goodwin.  “We have talked about opening it at a Sunday service but I think we really have to determine how we are going to open it and let that lead us as to when we will open it.”

Given the church had no idea the capsule was there; ideas have run wild as to what is inside the elusive metal box.

“We don't know what is in it, (but) there is a lot of speculation as to what could be in it,” says Goodwin. “It could be something from the Sunday school children maybe, it could be some newspaper clippings from that year, I really don't know.”

The 60-year-old church is being taken down and revamped as part of a $20-million redevelopment project called ‘The Sanctuary’.

The project will include a six-storey mixed-use development building and a $5-million, three storey St. Paul’s Arts and Worship Centre.



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Manchester joins Castanet

Castanet announces the appointment of Jon Manchester as News & Content Manager, effective Jan. 5.

General Manager Chris Kearney said, “This is the person we’ve been seeking for a long time. After scouring Western Canada for the ideal candidate, we found him in our own backyard.”

A gifted Okanagan journalist for 30 years, Jon has done reporting, writing, editing, photography, headlines, entertainment, Internet, coaching and newsroom management. He was recognized by his peers with the Thomson Newspapers’ North American Award of Excellence and has spent the last 20 years as Wire Editor, Regional Editor, Weekend Editor, Entertainment Editor and Managing Editor at the Kelowna Daily Courier.

“I feel as though my whole career has led to this point,” Jon said, “I’m excited about bringing together the best of traditional and new media. All I’ve learned about media, through my local contacts, my passion for news has brought me here - this is an opportunity that just makes sense. It’s where I belong now.”

Just passing its 14th birthday, Castanet.net now reaches 350,000 people each week, mainly in Kelowna and the Okanagan.



Back packing the pain


Kelowna resident Tim Roth had a problem, and it was one his fellow sportsmen could also identify with, so after four years in the making he finally has a solution.

The avid hunter says he has serious back pains and claims he isn’t the only one suffering, as most outdoors advocates complain of back issues, pressure point pain and movement restriction.

“So, I just started to play around with different ways to eliminate the suspension straps, then it came to us that you are constantly always wearing a jacket with our backpacks,” explains Roth. “So, we just decided to build the suspension system into the jacket.”

Roth and his business partner designed FloatPack Technology, to make a backpack feel like it is floating on your body by distributing the weight evenly throughout the garment instead of up on the shoulders.

“A 50 lbs backpack will then feel like a 10 lbs backpack,” says Roth.

Roth has patented FloatPack Technology and is the only company using it in North America.

Fouru Outerwear designs jackets, pants and a backpack frame which can connect any backpack on the market to the frame.
 
All of the Fouru Outerwear is manufactured in Vancouver, while the back packs are manufactured in Winfield and assembled in Kelowna, the entire product is Canadian made.

“With manufacturing overseas the quality just wasn’t there,” explains Roth. “We wanted to build the product that was not going to just last a couple of years but last you ten plus years.”

Manufacturing capabilities in Canada have a great reputation, but they are expensive. Despite that Roth and the company claim they would rather produce a good quality product rather than a great quantity of product.

“Manufacturing in Canada and North America is pretty much the most expensive world wide, and for us if we can get our numbers higher it will drop the cost of production and allow us to keep moving forward.”

Currently the cost of a total kit for consumers is $1300, which Roth says when compared to a product of equal quality is about 20 per cent less.

However in order to keep the product made in Canada, Fouru Outerwear needs a little financial assistance and to do so they have started a Kickstarter campaign.

The Kickstarter campaign starts in a few days and will ask consumers to donate or even purchase products to help keep manufacturing in our country.

“A $1,300 kit we are offering on Kickstarter for $1,000 and then if you wanted a suit shipped right now we are offering them that at $1,200.”

Fouru Outerwear is also asking hunters and back country hikers to take on the garbage bag challenge, where for every bag of trash removed from the bush you receive an entry to win gear.

The challenge started after Roth took his three daughters hunting one afternoon and discovered their favourite site had been trashed with garbage following a bush party.

“With contests on Facebook it’s all about liking and sharing to be entered to win so we just came up with a different idea of maybe them giving back in order to get something.”

For every 1000 bags of trashed collected Fouru Outerwear will donate a piece of gear, for more information click here.

Check out fouruouterwear.com to learn more about the company and their kick starter campaign.

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An American thanksgiving

In the spirit of American Thanksgiving, celebrated on this unseasonably warm Thursday in November, let us raise a feather or two to our “neighbours” among us.

The expat population in the Thompson-Okanagan, according to Statistics Canada, has been steadily growing over the past decade with more than 2,800 red, white and blue-blooded Americans who have gone cold turkey and now make their home in the Interior.

That makes nearly 1,200 expats living in Kelowna, close to 900 in Kamloops and around 500 spread between Vernon and Penticton.

Potentially, that means there could be a lot of festive dinner tables and some mouth-watering aroma’s circulating throughout the neighbourhoods.

Maybe.

One such resident who hails from New England, Jennifer Day, is expecting 18 people for tonight’s feast, and says she had a little trouble finding all the fixings.

“My (un-named American big box store) didn’t have fresh cranberries, brussel sprouts, and the closest thing to a turkey was a processed loaf. The pumpkin pie will have to be home baked.”

A little up the road in Black Mountain lives Linda Keast, formerly from Spokane. She has been a Kelowna resident for 16 years, and fared a little better but it wasn’t cheap.

“The first store was 60 dollars for 9 pounds (of turkey).” 

Say what?

“But then I found a 16 pounder for $40.”

After all it is not really about the spread and more about getting together with family and friends for a special day. “Football,” echoes Brad Day.

“The TV is on from 11 in the morning until the last sports casters sign off.”

But unlike their American counterparts, tomorrow is a workday.

“Guess I can’t exactly call in sick without raising suspicions,” says Brad.

And of course give thanks to the approximately 132 ‘pilgrims’ aboard the Mayflower who landed in Cape Cod on a blustery November day back in 1620.



Kelowna loves country

Kelowna radio listeners have a new favourite station, and it turns out y'all love country.

Penticton/Kelowna station Country 100.7 has made huge moves from the June 2014 ratings, moving from fifth in the market overall to your top tuned in station.

The country station's overall 'market share' has grown from 10.7 per cent to a massive 16.7 per cent of the total market.

Those numbers, released by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM), show the overall ratings of all the stations in the market for the demographic of all listeners 12-years-old and up.

The nine radio stations serving the Central Okanagan (Peachland through to Oyama) were rated through BBM from Sept. 1 to Oct. 26.

The top three stations in the market have been shaken up entirely from June. Country 100.7 has knocked EZ Rock 101.5 off the top spot, with EZ Rock dropping to fourth overall.

CBC Radio 1 88.9 has now claimed number two overall, knocking 99.9 Sun FM down to third.

The public radio broadcaster has moved up one more spot since the June 2014 ratings, taking 16.3 per cent of the 'market share.'

Bell Media stations Sun FM, EZ Rock and AM 1150 held the majority of the market in June, taking a combined 42.5 per cent of the marketplace but those numbers have dropped significantly.

All three stations have moved down in the ratings with the companies overall market share dropping to just 33.3 per cent.

K 96.3 has moved up to sixth overall while competing rock station Power 104 has dropped to seventh.

Q 103.1 and 103.9 The Juice continue to hold the bottom two spots, but both have made positive gains in their overall market share percentage.

BBM defines the aforementioned market share as the 'estimated total hours tuned to that station expressed as a percentage of total hours tuned to all radio.'

Radio stations in the Okanagan are rated twice a year, once in the summer and again in the fall.



Local kids take Disney trophy

Two Kelowna kids have been keeping a secret from friends and family for months, but the time has come to tell everyone they are the winners of Disney XD Canada's Grizzly Cup.

We shared the story with you in October of the the brother and sister duo who were battling on the TV show to reign supreme over three other Canadian teams.

When we first spoke with dad, Michael Woodworth, and his kids Mia, 13, and Tobin, 11, they knew they had already won the coveted trophy, but had to hide it until the final episode aired.

“Finally Tuesday night it was revealed and we all found out that our children, the only sibling team, proudly representing Kelowna and British Columbia, won the Grizzly Cup against three other teams that were picked out of 4,000 auditioning kids,” shares a clearly excited dad.

“Mia and Tobin are just thrilled, they are over the moon. They are so happy for each other, they were overwhelmed and we were too.”

The Kelowna team won the 'Grizzly Cup', a TV reality show for kids that pits the teams against each other in outdoor athletic competitions.

Disney hosted an open casting call at various locations across the country this summer, looking for eight kids to compete in their new 'Survivor' type adventure show.

In an interesting twist, the winning kids nearly missed their chance, but fought to win their spot on the show with a persistent grandmother by their side.

“We didn't find out there was even going to be auditions for the show until it was too late and the spots for Kelowna auditions had already been filled,” explains Woodworth.

“They told me they were having an overwhelming response for Kelowna and that kids were coming from all over the Interior so they at first said 'sorry no dice',” says Woodworth. “But an email did say if you come early enough and if by chance some people didn't show up, no guarantees, but if you come down, show your persistence, maybe.”

The problem was that Woodworth and his wife were out of town on that day and didn't feel right asking Grandma to wake at sunrise to take the kids there with only a small chance at an audition. But Grandma did it anyway.

“Long story short, my mom is a real trooper and can be highly persistent and energetic,” laughs Woodworth.

“She actually had them down there at the break of dawn and was even there before anyone at Disney, and managed to convince them to let them enter the contest. If it weren't for the efforts of Nana Mary, none of it would have even happened."

As to why Woodworth believes his kids reigned supreme, dad believes it was that sibling bond.

“I don’t think strength of character and determination set them apart because honestly all four teams had that in spades,” says Woodworth. “I would have to speculate that maybe the fact they are a sibling team that actually really trusts and supports each other, and they actually think they have a touch of ESP, they can actually sort of read each others minds, I think that may have given them a slight edge.”

However, he does say that it was a very close game and the final three teams were mere points apart.

Months after their win the Woodworth team still stays in touch with the other teams and the experience has left a lifetime of memories for the sibling duo.

Their win was announced when the show aired on Disney TV this week.



Be a hero this Christmas

An international charity that is located right here in Kelowna is working with the Canadian Government to help children who are at risk globally.

Be a Hero, has over 27 orphanages around the world and this Christmas the charity is focusing their efforts on children living in the Philippines.

Riikka Ikonen says Be a Hero has been working in the Philippines since the spring of this year to build homes and safer communities for young girls rescued from human trafficking.

“Some girls from the age of 5, have been rescued by our ongoing operation in the Philippines. We want to give an opportunity for the community to partner with us and help in rescuing more girls out of the sex trade,” explains Ikonen.

According to the charity it costs $1,000 to rescue one child and place them in a home, so Be a Hero is now looking to the people of Kelowna for their help in the battle against human trafficking by making donations, no matter how small.

“On Christmas Day we are sending a team to go down to the Philippines to be there with the children in person and distribute gifts and hugs,” says Ikonen. “Many of these team members are from Kelowna.”

A toy drive is being held for the children and bins for gifts have been placed all around the city and will be collected on the second week of December - unused toys of all kinds and light material clothing for girls and boys from  age 5 – 13 are welcome.

The gifts will be distributed to the children by the traveling team on Christmas Day.

The hosting locations for the Toy Drive are:

  • Nature's Fare, Orchard Plaza
  • H2O Center, Gordon Drive
  • Save-On-Food, Orchard Plaza
  • Goji's Frozen Yogurt, Springfield Road
  • New Life Church, Harvey Avenue
  • Willow Park Church, Hwy 33              
  • Menchie’s Frozen Yoghurt Kelowna Crossing, Highway 97

If you are interested in becoming a host, please contact the Be A Hero office at 1(888)738-4832.

All donations are tax receipted- for a gift of $1,000.00 you can rescue one little girl this Christmas. You can call in your donation at 1-888-738-4832 or go to the website or Facebook.



Hit and run suspect gets bail

The woman accused in the hit and run death of 83-year-old Julie Gillespie is free on bail.

Sharon Marlene Scott was released on $1,000 bail.

Scott, 71, has been charged with failure to stop at an accident with a person and failure to stop at an accident causing bodily harm.

She was arrested late Sunday evening, nearly 24 hours after Gillespie was hit while walking near an alley next to the Kelowna Daily Courier.

A 911 call was placed almost immediately and, while Gillespie was breathing when BC Ambulance personnel arrived, she died later in hospital from injuries suffered in the collision.

Scott is a contracted driver with the Courier.

She is scheduled to appear in court again Dec 4.



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