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Set the Holiday Table: Food bank supports young single dad who lost his mother to cancer

Loss leaves family fractured

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Introducing Rowan, a devoted single dad facing the challenges of raising his four-year-old daughter, Danielle. After recently gaining full custody, Rowan finds himself navigating the world of parenthood solo. He has been dedicated to working a seasonal job that brings him immense joy, but the impending end of the season casts a shadow on his financial stability.

Life took an unexpected turn for Rowan and his family when his mother, a pillar of support, succumbed to cancer last year. The loss left the family fractured, and this Christmas looms ahead with uncertainty. As the season of giving approaches, Rowan is grappling with the reality of not being able to provide the festive experience he envisions for Danielle.

With a heavy heart and a determination to give Danielle a sense of normalcy, Rowan turns to the Central Okanagan Food Bank as a last-ditch effort to ensure that his daughter is well-fed during these trying times. His love for his daughter is unwavering, and he dreams of a life where he can provide for her without the constant financial strain.

This Christmas, Rowan's greatest wish is to create cherished memories for Danielle, despite the challenges that life has thrown his way. The Central Okanagan Food Bank represents a community and support system that allows him to focus on what truly matters – giving Danielle a warm, loving, and nourished upbringing. In the face of adversity, Rowan's resilience shines through as he strives to build a better future for his daughter.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: Food bank helps as young mother navigates the complexities of postpartum depression

Helping through adversity

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Kelly, a resilient single mother residing in the Central Okanagan, is the proud parent of her bright and kind-hearted son, Ryan. In her eyes, Ryan is not just the best, but an exceptionally intelligent and compassionate 4-year-old. Despite the challenges life has thrown at them, Kelly remains dedicated to creating a loving and nurturing environment for her son.

Unfortunately, Ryan's father is unfit to be actively involved in his life. This has prompted Kelly to take on the role of both mother and father, ensuring that Ryan grows up surrounded by love and support.

Over the past few years, Kelly has faced her own battles with mental health, navigating the complexities of post-partum depression and coping with the additional stress brought on by the pandemic. Despite these challenges, Kelly is determined to rediscover her interests and establish a new sense of normalcy for herself and Ryan.

The family shares their home with an 18-year-old cat, a beloved furry companion who has been a constant source of joy for Ryan. The bond between Ryan and the cat reflects the warmth and care that characterize their household.

Currently working part-time at a local grocery store, Kelly provides for her family as best as she can, so Ryan has the opportunities he deserves. Her commitment to both work and family showcases her strength and determination in the face of adversity. However, the Central Okanagan Food Bank has assisted in providing nourishment for this family of two. Ryan’s favorite part of their hamper is the Snack Pack, with his favorite snacks being apples and granola bars.

As they navigate life's journey, Kelly and Ryan exemplify resilience, love, and the power of forging ahead despite the obstacles that may arise. When you donate to the Central Okanagan Food Bank, please know you are supporting families like Kelly and Ryan.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card



Set the Holiday Table: Ukrainian family finds solace and support at Central Okanagan Food Bank

Finding solace and support

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Introducing Petro and Yvinnia, a resilient couple whose journey brought them to Canada in 2022, to escape the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Fueled by a determination to provide their four children with a haven, Petro and Yvinnia embraced the formidable challenge of relocating to Canada.

Facing an immediate language barrier, Petro grappled with limited proficiency in English, making everyday interactions a formidable task. However, each stumbling block in communication became a stepping stone to newfound connections. Petro embraced language classes, and as the days passed, he found himself gradually expressing thoughts and emotions with increasing confidence.

Employment posed a challenge as Petro discovered that his engineering qualifications from Ukraine weren't readily recognized in Canada. Undeterred, he dove into retraining programs, turning the challenge into an opportunity for professional growth. The journey, though emotionally taxing, became a testament to Petro's resilience and adaptability.

This Christmas holds a special significance for Petro, marking only his second celebration in Canada. Despite the hurdles of adapting to a new life, Petro and his family are profoundly grateful to now call Canada home, finding solace and support through the Central Okanagan Food Bank—a vital cornerstone in their journey to rebuild.

Hailing from Ukraine, Petro and Yvinnia recognize the profound role of food in celebrations. In their culture, food is more than sustenance; it lies at the heart of every joyous occasion. The assistance provided by the Central Okanagan Food Bank has become indispensable salvation, ensuring they can uphold cultural traditions and revel in the warmth of the season

A heartfelt thank you for reaching out with a helping hand and becoming a source of joy for Petro's family. This holiday season you can play a pivotal role in making a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need it most, like Petro and his family.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: Hard-hit family looks forward to cooking Christmas meal with hamper from Central Okanagan Food Bank

Life changing support

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Meghan, a resilient individual who works in the dental industry, found her life taking an unexpected turn at the beginning of the pandemic. Before the global crisis, both Meghan and her partner were employed full-time, enjoying financial stability, and even contributing to charitable causes. Unfortunately, the dental industry faced challenges during the pandemic, affecting Meghan's employment and the family's financial situation.

In early 2021, Meghan faced significant health concerns, altering her physical abilities. Despite the challenges, she maintains a positive outlook, focusing on what she can do rather than dwelling on limitations. Meghan’s diagnosis only allows her to work part-time, as her physical strength is not what it used to be.

Despite the adversity, Meghan expresses gratitude for being more emotionally and physically present for her children. The family faced additional hardships when their townhouse flooded, leading to temporary accommodation in a hotel while still managing mortgage payments. A broken-down car further added to their challenges, prompting the family to rely on public transportation.

Now back in their townhome, Meghan and her family have experienced profound humility. The Central Okanagan Food Bank's (COFB) hamper services have been a life-changing support, offering a new perspective on food as essential fuel. The family has also discovered a sense of community during hamper pick-up days. Meghan considers the services that the food bank provides to be a critical lifeline for her family, including the Snack Packs for the kid’s lunches.

Meghan and her partner share a unique journey, having both struggled with infertility in previous relationships. However, their union brought them the joy of welcoming a baby girl into the world, whom they consider a miracle. Despite the hardships, the family cherishes Christmas traditions, spending quality time together through activities like baking, playing board games, and embracing the festive spirit with matching pajamas, a tradition facilitated by Meghan's thoughtful savings. They are looking forward to the Christmas meal they will prepare with the Christmas Hamper they receive from the COFB.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: Senior turns to Central Okanagan Food Bank to help make ends meet in face of rising cost of living

Help to make ends meet

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Meet Robert, a resilient senior whose life journey has been marked by both success and unexpected turns in his later years. Born in a small town in Saskatchewan, Robert grew up with a strong work ethic instilled by his parents, who emphasized the value of education and hard work.

In his early adulthood, Robert pursued his passion for numbers and finance, eventually becoming a successful accountant. His sharp mind and dedication led him to a fulfilling career, allowing him to provide a comfortable life for his family. Robert's achievements in the financial world were not only a testament to his skills but also a source of pride for those who knew him.

However, life took an unexpected turn for Robert during his retirement years. The combination of economic downturns, a heartbreaking divorce, unforeseen health challenges, and rising living costs eroded the financial stability he had worked so hard to achieve. Despite his best efforts to plan for retirement, Robert found himself in a situation where he had to make difficult choices to stretch his limited resources.

To make ends meet, Robert turned to the Central Okanagan Food Bank for assistance. This decision was not easy for him, as it meant confronting a new reality that contrasted sharply with the successful career he had enjoyed. Nevertheless, Robert approached this phase of his life with dignity and resilience, recognizing the importance of adapting to change.

Despite the challenges he faces in his senior years, Robert remains an inspiration to those around him. As he navigates this new chapter of his life, Robert continues to embody the principles of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of community that have defined his journey thus far.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card



Set the Holiday Table: Central Okanagan Food Bank client uses Food Rescue Program to feed her chickens, pigs

Food bank feeds farmyard

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Meet Caren, a resilient individual who embarked on a challenging journey a couple of years ago when she uprooted her life to care for her terminally ill mother. Despite the emotional toll, she devoted herself to her family, by caring for her mother until her death and working tirelessly to ensure her father with Alzheimer’s had a place in a long-term care home.

Navigating through financial difficulties, Caren found herself in a tight spot, having to manage extended finances due to the relocation, which included the need to secure funds for pet and damage deposits. However, she was fortunate to secure a rental on an acreage, allowing her to keep her cherished pigs and chickens, even if it meant living in an RV.

The Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB) has become an essential support system for Caren. The emotional upliftment she receives from the services is evident. After picking up her hamper, she excitedly looks for any treats she receives and leaves the items on the dashboard as a surprise for her son when picking him up from school. One of the poignant moments etched in her memory from accessing the food bank occurred right after she was discharged from the hospital, having dealt with a bad bout of vertigo. During this challenging time, her son Jonah stepped in, skillfully crafting a comforting dinner using the pre-made meals they had unexpectedly received in their latest hamper, embodying a heartfelt gesture of care for both.

Caren is not only resourceful but also environmentally conscious. She repurposes food scraps downcycled from the COFB’s Food Rescue Program to feed her chickens and pigs. For her, maintaining her family, including those with four legs, is therapeutic and crucial for preserving a semblance of normalcy in her and her son Noah's lives. In the face of adversity, Caren has demonstrated strength, resilience, and a commitment to keeping her family together, safeguarding their mental health throughout the journey.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: Food bank client wishes she had sought help sooner

'Didn't want to seem weak'

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Jenny has been accessing the Central Okanagan Food Bank’s (COFB) services for only a few months but wishes she had started much sooner. As a retired teacher who recently went through a divorce after 32 years of marriage, Jenny was having a hard time affording all her basic needs. Grocery shopping was the worst part of her week, as she would constantly be calculating the price of items in the cart, inevitably returning things she couldn’t afford to the store shelves before checking out.

As Jenny was doing errands one day in town, she was driving up Enterprise Way and something inside of her gathered up the courage to pull into the Central Okanagan Food Bank. Upon entering the building to inquire about how to become a client, her hands started shaking, and tears were streaming down her face. Jenny was embarrassed about using the food bank. Not to mention she thought there was always someone who could use the help more than her.

Jenny was welcomed with open arms by the staff and volunteers at the COFB – literally. When the volunteer coordinator noticed Jenny was upset, they offered her a hug and told her that she deserved to be there. The hamper Jenny received was tailored to her vegetarian preferences, which was full of fresh produce, canned goods, and even eggs; something she hadn’t purchased in months because of the high cost. If you asked Jenny what her thoughts on using the food bank are, she would say wholeheartedly that it’s changed her life.

“I didn’t come to the food bank sooner because I didn’t want to seem weak. But it’s my hope that everyone feels empowered to use this service if they are struggling. I’m forever grateful”- Jenny, COFB client since September 2023.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: Central Okanagan Food Bank a crucial lifeline to retired military couple with new baby

Food bank a crucial lifeline

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

om and Veronica's love story began 11 years ago when they met, forming a bond that has weathered both joyous and challenging times. As a retired military couple, they embrace the comfort of home and have welcomed a new addition to their family. For a decade the pair struggled with infertility, and just as they were about to accept their reality, they welcomed their daughter, Alley, into the world. Alley is considered a miracle and a symbol of hope after years of longing for a family.

Their home is filled with love not only for each other but also for their four disabled dogs. These furry companions are a testament to Veronica's dedication to dog rescue efforts. Each one bears a unique story, and they have become cherished members of the family. Veronica poured her heart into caring for these dogs while she grappled with her own infertility over the years.

Recently, this new family had a significant upheaval when their landlord sold the house, they had called home for the past nine years. Adjusting to a smaller and drastically more expensive basement suite has brought both challenges and a fresh perspective on what truly matters.

Amidst these changes, Tom and Veronica are eagerly looking forward to starting new family traditions this holiday season. The arrival of Alley has infused their lives with renewed purpose, and they are determined to create a loving and stable environment for their daughter.

The support they receive from the Central Okanagan Food Bank is a crucial lifeline, helping them provide for their family as they navigate these transitions and build a brighter future together.

  • You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:
  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: New mom gets support from Tiny Bundle program at Central Okanagan Food Bank

Tiny Bundle for new mom

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Wendy and her husband Mark have been coming to the Okanagan to operate a wilderness resort in West Kelowna for over 10 years. The duo looks forward to doing so each year, making the long trek from Powell River. This year Wendy’s adult daughter, Aria, was with them with her two-week-old baby, and what started out like any other year quickly changed when the McDougall Creek fire broke out.

Within hours the family went from being on evacuation alert – to evacuation notice; forcing them to leave behind their job and living accommodation. The family parked their trailers in the Walmart parking lot for 2 weeks in total. During this time, they received emergency hampers from the Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB) and the evacuation center in West Kelowna. Having access to food during this incredibly vulnerable time was a gift that Wendy, Mark, and Aria will forever be grateful for.

Wendy and Mark did not have insurance as independent contractors and did not qualify for any additional government support. When the evacuation center closed, the couple packed up their belongings and used the last of the gas gift cards they received from other aid organizations to head home to Powell River.

Aria has since remained in the Okanagan and was fortunate enough to secure a position at a local RV park in West Kelowna. She is now a regular client of COFB and participates in the Tiny Bundle Program. The program provides supplemental nourishment through perishable foods and baby supplies to new or expecting mothers and babies up to one year of age. Aria is open about the challenges of being a young single mother but is grateful for the support she has received from the Okanagan community.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card



Set the Holiday Table: Central Okanagan Food Bank helps single senior navigate life on social assistance

A vital support system

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Tonja's life journey didn’t turn out the way she expected, leading her to be a familiar face at the Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB) since October 2020. A single senior navigating life on social assistance, Tonja finds herself in the challenging position of waiting for shoulder surgery, a procedure that has been repeatedly delayed. Despite the setbacks, she remains optimistic about the prospect of returning to work once her health allows.

The reliance on public transit adds an extra layer of difficulty to Tonja's routine, making the journey to the food bank more challenging. However, she was grateful for the opportunity to collect her food hamper from the COFB’s satellite location at Willow Park Church as it’s much closer to her home in Rutland. Tonja’s resilience and determination are evident as she patiently awaits her surgery, eager to regain her independence.

In the midst of life's challenges, Tonja finds solace and fulfillment in the company of her three beloved cats. Their well-being is a priority for her, and she measures her own happiness by theirs. Despite moments of loneliness, the companionship of her feline friends brings a sense of joy and purpose to her life.

Tonja expresses deep gratitude for the support she receives from the Central Okanagan Food Bank, emphasizing the importance of the diverse array of food items she receives in her hamper. Items like milk and meat, which can be expensive, are especially appreciated and contribute significantly to her overall well-being.

As she faces the uncertainties of life, Tonja wants donors to know just how grateful she is for their support of the Central Okanagan Food Bank. From her perspective, the food bank isn't merely a means of obtaining nourishment; rather, it serves as a vital support system for numerous individuals in the community, offering indispensable aid in times of difficulty.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: Recent transplants from Philippines touched by compassion of Central Okanagan Food Bank

Touched by compassion

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Reimer and his family, recent transplants from the Philippines to Kelowna, have embarked on a new chapter in their lives, filled with both challenges and yet the warmth of a close-knit community. Having arrived just six months ago, they find themselves adapting to a different holiday experience in Canada, a stark contrast to the festive extravagance they were accustomed to back home.

Christmas holds a special place in their hearts, and for Gina, Reimer's wife, the joyous season begins the moment the "-ber months" commence, marking the start of their holiday preparations and decorations. In the Philippines, Christmas was a grand celebration, marked by the presence of family and friends, creating cherished memories together.

In their previous life, Reimer was the proud owner of a restaurant, while Gina dedicated herself to nursing. However, the move to Kelowna has brought about significant changes, with Reimer now working tirelessly at two jobs to make ends meet for his family. The once lavish celebrations have transformed into a more modest affair, reflecting the realities of their new life in Canada.

Their decision to relocate was driven by a desire to provide greater opportunities for their daughter, showcasing the sacrifices they are willing to make for their family's future. The transition has not been without its difficulties, but Reimer and Gina have been deeply touched by the compassion and support extended to them by the Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB).

In their pursuit of a fresh start, the COFB has emerged as a source of encouragement, offering support and fostering a sense of belonging for Raymond and his family. Reimer and his family are grateful for the kindness they have received, as they work hard to build a brighter future and create new holiday traditions in their adopted home.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


Set the Holiday Table: Food bank was a help to fire evacuees

Bringing normalcy in crisis

Castanet is proud to partner with the Central Okanagan Food Bank for the Set the Holiday Table campaign. This month, we will be sharing the stories of local residents helped by the organization.

Mel and her family started accessing the Central Okanagan Food Bank’s (COFB) resources for the first time this year. As the cost of living drastically increased throughout the year, Mel and her husband, Joe, immediately faced the dilemma of choosing between paying their mortgage or affording food.

Within a few short months of accessing COFB’s services, the McDougall wildfire broke out in West Kelowna, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes, including Mel’s home in Smith Creek. The family immediately collected what belongings they could and went to the emergency evacuation center. Mel and Joe, along with their two teenage children and three large dogs were at the evacuation center for two days before they could get access to a hotel.

The family was grateful for the accommodation, however the hotel they were staying at only had a small mini fridge for appliances. This made storing and preparing food at the hotel next to impossible. Although they were given restaurant vouchers, it was difficult for them to drive 15 minutes to and from the restaurant for each meal, especially as Melissa was working from ‘home’. On top of that, eating out for every meal was becoming very unhealthy.

With Joe being diabetic and their oldest son dealing with gluten intolerance, it was critical for the family to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The hamper that Mel’s family received while they were evacuated was filled with the fresh produce and perishables that they had hoped for. This nourishment was not only necessary, but it represented the only normalcy that the family had experienced during the wildfire crisis.

Once the family finally got the green light to return home they were faced with the same reality as most evacuees; a fridge/ refrigerator of spoiled food. With record-high grocery prices, replacing these items was another challenge for Mel’s family. For those in the same financial position as Mel’s family, it was tough to find the funds to even afford the insurance deductible for food replacements. The COFB was able to help people with restocking staple grocery items as they tried to return to normalcy.

Navigating these difficult times was hard for Mel and Joe to say the least, but they are forever grateful for the varying support the Central Okanagan Food Bank was able to offer them.

You can contribute to Set the Holiday Table by:

  • Donate online at www.cofoodbank.com/settheholidaytable
  • Call the Central Okanagan Food Bank at 250-763-7161 to donate by credit card, or?
  • Drop by the Central Okanagan Food Bank office 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday to donate by cash, cheque, debit, or credit card


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