The Rotary Club of Chilliwack After Hours processed 875 lbs of carrots in a night for the Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society in September 2019. The society has had to cancel its largest fundraiser of the year. (Submitted photo)

Chilliwack non-profits suffering financially with cancellations

Bowls of Hope will take a $70,000 hit with cancellation of main fundraising event

The inability to gather people together is severely hampering the ability to gather donations.

From big galas and casino nights, to hot dog sales and 50/50s, Chilliwack non-profits rely heavily on creating fun events that both promote their good work and help bring in much-needed funding.

One of the most recent to be hit hard is the Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society. Their annual Feed the Children Dinner Auction was scheduled for May 1, and normally draws in a full room of supporters ready to give openly for the cause.

It’s one of the bigger events of the fundraising calendar year for Chilliwack, and the society’s main fundraiser. Its cancellation means a devastating loss of $70,000 to $80,000 for their program. The Bowls of Hope Society feeds about 850 Chilliwack children every school day, and they continue to ensure food is getting to children even during this pandemic, working with other local organizations.

Despite the need for fundraising, they know the problem is community-wide and have made a difficult decision.

“Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society is not only concerned about the children we support during this pandemic, but about those who support us,” they said in a press release sent out April 6. “To that end we have decided not to reschedule this year’s fundraiser so that we minimize the burden that struggling and recovering businesses and individual donors would be asked to bear.”

Like many who have had to cancel events, they are offering refunds immediately. But they are also accepting the cost of a ticket as a donation, as well, to those who wish. And for the many auction prizes already donated, they are planning an online auction in the future, or can return items to the donors.

READ MORE: Chilliwack partners unite to make sure kids don’t go hungry during the pandemic

“We thank the Chilliwack community for 16 years of generous, ongoing support,” they said. “We are here for you. Our primary goal, while continuing to support our community in any way we can during this pandemic, is to remain viable so that we are here and once again prepared to feed children in need when they are back in school.”

The Chilliwack Hospice Society’s bottom line is also suffering in the face of the pandemic and health measures designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The society runs the Thrifty Boutique, which pulls in about 30 per cent of the society’s revenue. The distancing measures were put in place immediately following their big move to a new, bright location beside the Evans Road roundabout. They are selling some items via their Facebook page, with curbside pickup, but the doors are closed to the public.

They’ve also had to delay planning their annual fundraising events, and recently turned their annual Hike for Hospice walk/run into a virtual challenge.

It’s all had a “devastating effect on the future of the society,” says executive director Sue Knott. So, they are also asking for donations from the public who may otherwise support their work.

“Although our office doors are currently closed for the protection of our clients, volunteers and staff, we are still working hard to serve our community,” Knott says. “We are offering free one-on-one grief support to those facing terminal illness or grieving the loss of a loved one through phone or Facetime. We are also offering support to parents who are struggling to help grieving children and teens as families try to navigate these very uncertain times. Our services are needed more now than ever.”

Bowls of Hope and the Hospice Society are just two of Chilliwack’s non-profits that are going to be stuggling through the pandemic. But they aren’t alone. Many events in Chilliwack have raffles, food sales, parking fees and other revenue streams for non-profits, including local Lions clubs, cadet programs, sports clubs and more.

Non-profits can apply to the government’s wage subsidy program. It requires employers to show a 30 per cent drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, compared with the same month or months in 2019.

Organizations can check their eligibity here.

READ MORE: Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance


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