The inaugural United Way BC Day was celebrated across the province on Tuesday, with a kick-off event in Kamloops raising funds for wildfire recovery.
Organizers estimated about 300 people were in attendance at the Kamloops breakfast on Tuesday morning as awards were handed out to some members of the community.
Kris Gibson, United Way BC's provincial director of corporate relations, said the breakfast hosted in Kamloops marked the start of the organization’s fundraising season.
“We're raising dollars and funds to invest back into our local community, so right here back into the TNC [Thompson Nicola Cariboo] region, to support programs like after school programs, our food hubs across the TNC region, and other essential programs to support our communities,” Gibson said.
“This morning, we're raising funds for our wildfire relief and recovery fund. That's to support all of those individuals and communities who have been displaced through the wildfires, both in terms of their immediate needs but also in the recovery phases.”
Kristi Rintoul, United Way BC community impact manager, said support from donors, corporations, governments and individuals allow the organization to raise funds to meet the needs of communities.
“Those are needs like hunger, food insecurity, we know folks that are struggling with the toxic drug crisis, child care, still dealing with COVID and the mental health concerns,” Rintoul said.
“Today, a huge piece of what we're doing is surrounding those folks affected by the wildfires this summer.”
She said the organization has relationships with community members and donors, allowing collaboration between the two.
“Because we walk that line, we can incorporate that collaborative approach with donors, government, corporate partners, as well as with our community partners and charities that we work with, bringing them together to discuss big social issues and social needs to be able to address those needs,” Rintoul said.
She noted the collaborative approach creates larger impacts for communities.
Organizers announced Tuesday that United Way BC raised nearly $1 million in the Thompson Nicola Cariboo region.
United Way BC said they gave over $700,000 to community partners to support those affected by wildfires, but has received over $1 million in requests for support.
Simultaneous events were held on Tuesday across the province, including in Kelowna and Nanaimo. Venues and landmarks in Vancouver, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and New Westminster were lit red to mark the day.
United Way BC said Courtenay, Creston, Nanaimo, Richmond Vancouver and Williams Lake have adopted proclamations to honour United Way BC Day.
More information on United Way BC’s wildfire recovery fund is available online.