Tree of Hope at Landmark District lit for season

Tree of Hope helps children

Sarita Patel

Like many events across the globe, the Tree of Hope light up celebration had to be cancelled. In an event that typically sees hundreds of residents come to see the tree light up in-person, Castanet brought the event to the public virtually.

This year the Tree of Hope campaign will go to support the Child Advocacy Centre.

“When you’re in working for a not-for-profit, you work every day to raise awareness, to raise funds and when someone reaches out to you with a gift of this magnitude - it’s a pretty unforgettable moment,” explains Ginny Becker, executive director at Child Advocacy Centre.

The CAC has only been up and running for a year in Kelowna.

“As a new charity, it’s particularly meaningful because we’re still in a position of building the awareness that is critical to not-for-profit agencies, particularly in a year which such unusual changes we’ve had this year,” Becker adds.

The CAC is a centralized resource that specifically responds to abuse, neglect and violence against children. 

The facility brings together resources from Interior Health, RCMP, Ministry of Child and Family Development, Westbank First Nations and the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society to act as a one-stop shop for the children and families who need help.

“The fact that we have this world-class facility in our community, thanks to the hard work from a lot of great, kind-hearted people, really just speaks volumes to the community we have,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.

“Obviously I want to talk about all of the positives here but there is some really sobering, horrible statistic,” said Jillian Harris, local television personality, during the light-up ceremony. “One-in-three children in BC will experience some form of severe abuse and that is just, as a mother, that is just completely heartbreaking.”

Harris says what the CAC can provide with multiple professional agencies under one roof is invaluable. 

“So when these kids are going through … one of the most traumatic times in their life, instead of having to go to Kamloops, to go to the police station, to go to the hospital - all of these professionals are able to come together in a safe beautiful, state-of-the-art facility,” she said.

Donations can be made through the campaign’s website through to Jan. 1.

“In addition, we have this fun little campaign, the little red box campaign, where you can buy a custom, hand-painted Tree of Hope ornament and all the proceeds from that is going to go to the CAC Kelowna," said Dallas Gray, leasing and marketing for Stober Group. 

Becker says the impact of the donations they’ll receive from this campaign is huge. 

“Our traditional events have been cancelled, the things that we as not-for-profits do to connect with the community and build funds has really been completely been dissembled this year.”

“For us as a new agency, this is a critical opportunity to ensure that we can be there to offer these services to kids in the coming months.”

Harris’ two young children, Annie and Leo, were the guests of honour who lit up the tree, which will be lit until the fundraising campaign ends in the new year.

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