Have breakfast, help locals

Tax season can seem overwhelming and potentially expensive, especially for people already struggling financially. 

That's why the Penticton and Area Access Centre started offering a free tax filing service each spring, a service they couldn't afford to fund without the help of United Way. 

"When we first opened, we had lineups out the door, for the first few weeks," said Katrina McKeown, executive director. "We had about 15 seats in the waiting room, they were rarely empty."

The funds for the project came from the United Way's Central and South Okanagan campaign, which distributed $1.4 million to 48 separate local agencies in 22 communities over the past year. 

The tax program at the Access Centre is just one of many programs that made a difference in the lives of people in the South Okanagan. 

"A lot of people get overwhelmed with their taxes," McKeown said. "We had so many people that were astonished it was free. It's a chance to get back on top of it and move on with their lives."

Many who used the service ended up benefitting through GST and child benefit rebates. McKeown said it was touching to see how many people were so grateful that they tried to offer a little money as compensation, though the organization would not accept.

The United Way is now launching its 2018 campaign, looking to raise money to fund programs like this one throughout the year.

In Penticton, a drive-thru fundraising breakfast will be held at the Lakeside Resort on Thursday Sept. 20. Patrons will get a breakfast sandwich, by donation, and all money will go to the community fund. 

For more information on how to contribute, click here

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