By Keith Lacey
A program that asks generous residents in Oliver and Osoyoos to “adopt a family” to ensure they can enjoy the Christmas season is set to return.
The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs “Adopt-a-Family at Christmas” program matches families and young people with individuals, businesses, and organizations.
The program was introduced in Oliver and Osoyoos back in 2013.
“Our youth are current members of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs and are identified as needing support at this time of year,” said Laurene Sloboda, centre director for Oliver and Osoyoos with the club. “Although many families quietly try to manage to make ends meet throughout the course of the year, many are not able to. Christmas is a particularly difficult time for those families and young people.”
Last year the organization helped 17 families in the Oliver and Osoyoos area who were in need of support and Sloboda anticipates needing to match as many families this year.
The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs Adopt-a- Family at Christmas sponsors are encouraged to take on the responsibility of providing Christmas breakfast, lunch and dinner for the family they are matched with.
The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs was formed in 1959 and offers programming and services in communities across the region, including Enderby, Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Summerland, Penticton, Armstrong, Oliver and Osoyoos, she said.
“We have roughly 80 families that we will be assisting with this program spread across the Okanagan Valley this Christmas season,” she said.
The sponsoring individual or family has the option of meeting the family they are adopting to assist over the Christmas holiday season, she said.
“We leave it up to them … they can meet the family they are assisting or they can remain anonymous … it’s totally at their discretion,” she said.
The boys and girls club teams up with the Kiwanis Share the Spirit Christmas program in communities where both non-profit organizations operate, she said.
“The Kiwanis clubs help provide toys, gifts and clothing and our program is designed so that our sponsors provide the food for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Christmas Day,” she said. “It’s all about making Christmas a special day for everyone.”
The sponsors have the option of delivering the food they purchase to their adopted family or they can bring it to the boys and girls club, who will have volunteers deliver the food, she said.
There have been numerous sponsors in Oliver and Osoyoos who have been supporting this program for several years and many have already signed up for the 2017 campaign, said Sloboda.
Without programs like this, many boys and girls club members and their families would not be able to enjoy a happy and joyous Christmas, she said.
“This is all about making Christmas special for everyone,” she said. “Christmas can be a very difficult time for people who don’t have a lot, so programs like this really do make a difference.”
The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs sponsor its Club 1016 youth drop-in program for kids ages 10 to 16 every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon from 2:30 to 5 p.m. in an upstairs meeting room at the Sonora Community Centre.
A new youth drop-in program called Thank God It’s Saturday (TGIS) has also started at the Sonora Centre. It takes place every second Saturday evening between 5-9 p.m in the gymnasium.
In Oliver, young people between the ages of 13 and 19 are invited to participate in a youth drop-in program at the air cadet hangar on Cessna Street.
“We hope you will consider adopting a family this Christmas and help make a family in our community have a little brighter holiday,” said Sloboda. “Thank you for bringing joy in a time of need.”
If anyone has any questions or needs more information, they can contact Sloboda at 250-498-8844 during office hours.