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Islanders support local charity at Christmas

The number of people donating to charities on Bowen goes up during the holidays. The food bank is one example and another is the Bowen Island Community Foundation.

The number of people donating to charities on Bowen goes up during the holidays. The food bank is one example and another is the Bowen Island Community Foundation.

Joyce Ganong, chair of the BICF, says that Christmas is very much a time when Bowen Islanders think of others.

Ganong told the Undercurrent earlier this week that the foundation receives up to 80 per cent of its donations over the holidays and that while the giver can ask that the gift be directed to a specific cause, such as the local food bank, more often the gifts are for endowments.

"The majority of (the fund's) assets are gifts that are invested, held in perpetuity, with the income from those investments returned as grants to the community," she said. "Rather than focussing on annual fundraising for the next year's expenditures, community foundations build endowment funds for the future."

BICF was launched in 2002 and has already grown to an endowment of over $500,000. By 2004 they'd grown enough funds to start giving grants and Ganong said since then it's "provided over $44,000 in grants to the full range of the community: children, youth, seniors and for the arts, health, environment, heritage and recreation." Since 2009, 18 scholarships totalling $9,050 have been awarded to local students.

Ganong said they focus on grants that help organizations "become more viable, sustainable; we really try to give grants that will expand the ability of those organizations." An example is a grant given to Seniors Keeping Young (SKY) to purchase a big-screen TV. SKY uses the TV to greatly enhance their exercise classes and when they bring in speakers, those speakers use it to enhance their presentations.

Ganong gave an example of an individual who donated to the BICF. "Maggie Cumming wanted to leave her beloved island a nest-egg to carry on her work of preserving the natural beauty while increasing the network of trails," she said. "She made her gift as a residual benefit from her estate."

As for a group, Ganong noted that students at BICS have given to the foundation. "In June of 2011, the students of Bowen Island Community School, from Kindergarten through to Grade 8, in their study of the virtue of service, launched a "Pennies for Bowen" campaign," she said. "They raised 194,440 pennies and gave them to the foundation to be added to the community endowment fund."

If you, or your organization, are considering donating to the Bowen Island Community Foundation over the holiday season, or throughout the year, you can visit their website at www.bowenfoundation.com or call Joyce Ganong at 604-947-2802.

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