By CARA McKELVEY
Trustee, School District 73
WELL, DECEMBER IS UPON US and throughout the Kamloops-Thompson region the giving season is truly underway.
The Salvation Army’s bell-ringers greet shoppers as they enter stores, envelopes arrive in the mail encouraging us to purchase meals for the less fortunate. We are encouraged to fill shoe boxes with niceties and necessities for the homeless and for women seeking shelter from abusive relationships.
And the Kamloops This Week Christmas Cheer Fund has re-emerged. All sure signs that the giving season is here.
This month will see classrooms of students in every grade adopting families through Kamloops’ perennial favorite, Christmas Amalgamated. Students will be encouraged to fill hampers of food for those less privileged, and to bring small gifts in for children who face the prospect of waking up to empty stockings on Christmas morning.
As admission to the dozens of winter concerts, schools will gather non-perishable food items for the Kamloops Food Bank.
But the spirit of giving in the Kamloops-Thompson schools extends beyond the 12th calendar month.
For nearly 40 years students in SD73 schools have participated in September’s Terry Fox Run and have raised a million dollars for the Terry Fox Foundation. Our staff and students are consistently the top contributors to the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign which runs each spring.
Each fall my fellow trustees challenge each other to earn the most for the Raise a Reader campaign, and for the first time this year the SD73 business company was able to make a $100,000 dividend available to SD73. The district will give schools and Parent Advisory Councils an opportunity to receive project funding two times a year.
And while the final totals have not been calculated, it’s looking like the recent United Way employee campaign is up more than 30 per cent over last year.
There is so much giving.
This year, though, it’s clear that the generosity we witness in classrooms, gymnasiums and staff rooms throughout the district is really only mirroring the beautiful spirit of giving that is prevalent in the communities throughout the regions we serve.
We noticed it in April in Clearwater when the shrinking Sikh community sold its temple and gave $40,000 to the community’s two schools.
We notice it every day when parents and community members volunteer in our schools to help children read, supervise on field trips, or coach our sports teams.
And we really noticed the generosity of the people of this region, and throughout the province actually, when Parkcrest elementary school was destroyed by fire just two days into the school year.
The school was still in flames when the first calls of support came in. From the City of Kamloops, from the United Way, the Church of Latter-Day Saints across the road, the Boys and Girls Club and so many others.
From organizations offering day programs to the displaced students, replacement books and supplies, food for Parkcrest staff reorganizing at the Henry Grube in the days following. Services, supplies, cash donations and hundreds of offers of support and encouragement told the tale to each of us connected to SD73 just how generous, caring and supportive the people of the Kamloops-Thompson are.
So yes, it is this time of year, that the charitable and relief campaigns underway are inspired by, of course, the gift-giving that is traditional to Christmas.
It’s wonderful to see that giving to the less fortunate is now as much a part of the season as the school end-of-term concerts, the festive-themed performances and, twinkly lights and of course, gathering with family, friends and co-workers.
It is also heartwarming to realize giving isn’t for just one month of the year. In the Kamloops-Thompson district support for and from our communities happens all year long.
Cara McKelvey is School District 73 Trustee for Thompson Nicola Regional District Electoral Area J, and Logan Lake.