Keep The Cold Off Penticton fundraise on leap day at the Barley Mill

'Leap'-ing to help the needy

The need for help is greater than ever for those living on the streets in Penticton.

A vicious cold snap the South Okanagan experienced in January put even more pressure on Keep the Cold Off Penticton.

The local organization is the brainchild of Mike Forster and Kristyn Trickey, who drive around town in an old SUV packed with warm clothes, hot drinks, food and care packages for the homeless and needy.

“It’s been really good, but it’s been really busy though. That cold snap made us extremely busy,” explained Forster. “We were doing outreach three times a week during that time. We do it twice a week now.”

Keep The Cold Off Penticton is a non-profit group, but as of yet, is not a registered charity.

Forster points to the many people he’s come into contact with who may have a place to live - but few of life’s other necessities.

“They may be housed, but they don’t have the means to get all the extra stuff that they need. So, we’ve been helping with that,” Forster said. “We go through a ton of supplies, from clothing and jackets, to snacks and food. A lot of people are either missing meals, or not getting enough to eat.”

And how does everything get paid for?

“It’s all from donations. People are donating items and dropping them off at the Legion,” says Forster. “When we post on what we need, water or hot chocolate or coffee, people are coming through. Some offer monetary funds to buy the things we’re not getting.”

The organization is hosting a fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 29.

The Leap Day Meltdown takes place at the Barley Mill Brew Pub starting at 6 pm. 

A drop box will be set up for those who would like to bring along material donations, such as gloves, socks, jackets, hand warmers, and non-perishable snack foods.

People can also donate money to the cause.

“We have to rely on people’s generosity,” Forster said. “That money is going to set us up for the next few months to make sure we can continue our outreach twice a week.”

And just because winter is coming to a close doesn't mean Keep The Cold Off Penticton will close up shop. The organization will continue its outreach program through the year.

“There’s a lot of people out there needing help. More than we originally thought.”

Tickets for Saturday’s fundraiser are $25 at the Barley Mill, and include a full meal and entertainment including a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, and bingo games.

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