Volunteers are stepping up to help several charity organizations in Whistler as the community draws together for the holidays.
Already 1,400 volunteer hours have been registered through the SHARE Whistler campaign, which comes to an end Dec. 28.
"We have had a tremendous response to the volunteer aspect of the campaign," said Carol Coffey executive director of the Community Foundation of Whistler, which along with Pique Newsmagazine is spearheading the program.
"These volunteer hours not only give the volunteer the opportunities to win prizes in the draws but also to earn money for their charity.
"I also think that both the volunteers and the charitable organizations appreciate that they can have their hours count towards raising funds for their group."
Coffey expects many more hours to be volunteered before SHARE Whistler draws to a close. Each week someone who donates at least $50 or five hours of volunteer time has a chance to win a pair of Prior skis or a Prior snowboard.
The program is a six-week campaign to drive donations to the CFOW and charitable organizations it supports. Pique will match donations up to $10,000.
Already $4,260 has been donated through SHARE.
Unlike a typical charity, money given to a community foundation is invested and grows over time. The interest is disbursed by the CFOW for program use.
"This particular fund is important because of its flexibility," said Coffey, adding that she hopes to raise even more money before the December 28 cut-off.
"It allows the Community Foundation to respond to the changing needs of the community as it is broad in scope. This fund has supported projects such as violence prevention programs in Sea to Sky Schools, cultural events such as In-SHUCK-ch days, mental health education, and projects such as the Pemberton Skatepark."
One of the charities that receives funding through the CFOW and will benefit from SHARE Whistler is the Get Bear Smart Society.
"For us in particular there are very few foundations that support wildlife causes," said Sylvia Dolson, the Society's executive director. "We are really grateful that the Community Foundation does support our Society."
The CFOW is an important source of funds for the Get Bear Smart Society and this coming year Dolson hopes to use the funds to help pay for the purchase and planting of mountain-ash, part of the organization's habitat enhancement program.
"In the long term that will provide food for many bears and for Jeanie's daughter Jeanette as well," said Dolson.
Jeanie, an iconic Whistler bear was shot by conservation officers in the fall after breaking into human food sources in the village one too many times. The killing stunned the community.
"That is a big one for us because we really want to do something for Jeanette," said Dolson. It is also hoped that the funds can be used to start a Bear Smart Business Program.
"Jeanie seemed to get into conflicts at a few restaurants so we want to do more education with restaurants and part of that will be to create a short video for staff training," said Dolson, adding that the Society is moving to use social media platforms to share information more and more in the hopes of connecting with young workers in the resort.
The Bear Smart Business Program will offer logos for a website and stickers as well so that those who shop or use a business can know if it is a partner of the program and is "Bear Smart."
In the past CFOW funds have helped pay for bear education outreach and research, the waste and a landscaping audit and it contributed to the seed funding for the very popular Bearology book, which is available all over Whistler and through the on-line store at www.bearsmart.com.
The Kathy Barnett Memorial Fund is also managed through the CFOW and will benefit from SHARE Whistler.
This year's recipient was Shannon Ellis, Pemberton Library's director.
"I have always wanted to know more about facilitating meetings and would like to work towards helping groups do strategic plans," Ellis said, adding that getting the grant from the memorial fund will make that possible by funding education in that field this coming spring.
"I love the non-profit world and all the volunteerism and I would like to help those groups further themselves and be more organized.
"The CFOW does really great work addressing some really key needs in the community and it is a great source of some small to medium type grants that help the community grow and help organizations provide what it is that they want over and above their operating budgets."
There are three primary goals of the SHARE Whistler campaign:
• To attract new donors and volunteers to support local non-profits through the CFOW;
• To encourage people 35 and under to get involved in philanthropy and the Whistler community;
• To provide publicity and exposure for a variety of local charitable causes.
HOW TO DONATE:
Go to www.whistlerfoundation.com or www.piquenewsmagazine.com and click on the SHARE Whistler logo. The CFOW will forward donations (net of 3.9 per cent CanadaHelps processing fee) directly to the donors' charity of choice no later than Jan. 31, 2012.
Select a charity such as the Whistler Search and Rescue Society or donate to one of the CFOW's permanent endowment funds.
Like the CFOW Facebook page and Pique will contribute $1 for new new "Like" up to $1,000. The deadline for the weekly Prior draws is 7 a.m. each Wednesday. The winner this week: Claire Ruddy.