Share the Spirit thanks the Oliver community for their generous support in helping provide gift hampers

Record number of gifts

Christmas is looking brighter for more than 120 children in Oliver thanks to the generosity of the community. 

On Saturday, volunteers delivered Share the Spirit gift hampers to 61 families in need through the town. The hampers included toys, treats, hygiene supplies and more, all donated by generous individuals, groups and businesses from the area.

For almost 20 years, Share the Spirit has been running in Oliver and this year was the biggest for the program, with the number of families delivered to growing by 30 per cent over last year. Sponsors stepped up in both big and small ways for those in need. 

Two sisters just two and four years old - picked out, carefully wrapped, and proudly donated Pez Dispenser candy machines. Elementary school staff worked together to fill the wish list from a family of six. A local farmer donated a Christmas dinner including her own home-raised, free-range chickens. And countless others donated cash and gifts or took on full sponsorship of a family in need.  

Once again, staff and inmates at the Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) sponsored a total of four families, with the  inmates committing their own money to buy hampers for two families in need. 

“It’s a program our clients really support,” a representative from the OCC said in the press release. “Many say how much of a difference it would have made for them if, when they were children, someone had shown that kind of generosity to their family. Inmates often have just a few dollars in their bank accounts, but they donate it all - every penny - to buy the gifts for their sponsored family. We’ve done Share the Spirit for a few years. Now our clients are starting to ask about it early in the fall because they’re so committed.”

The hampers make a big impact at what can otherwise be a very challenging time of year for families in need. 

“Wow is all I can say. Wow. Thank you!” one local mom told Share the Spirit after receiving her family's gift hamper. 

“This is amazing,” said another hamper recipient, a single mom of two. “You didn’t just bring gifts; you brought excitement for my kids and hope for me in a year that’s been awful. Please pass on - I don’t know what, thanks isn’t big enough. Please just tell who ever sponsored us how much we appreciate them.”

Over three days,  a nine-year-old named Gavin worked over 25 hours of volunteering at the Community Hall; receiving gifts from sponsors, organizing them for distribution, and then helping load up the delivery driver’s vehicles. 

Muscles, as the other volunteers started calling him, told them, “I’m tired, but we made Christmas happen for more than 100 kids. That’s pretty awesome.”

Thank you’s go out to the many people who made Oliver Share the Spirit 2020 possible from the organizers: the volunteers who received, organized and wrapped presents tirelessly, the Oliver Fire Department team who delivered gifts incredibly efficiently, Oliver Missions Society who connected so many dots. Thanks also to Oliver Parks and Rec for donating space and Oliver Kiwanis Club for partnering. Most of all, thank you to the Share the Spirit sponsors. There will be big smiles in a lot of local homes on Christmas morning because of you. 


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