The end of the road nears for the Fruitvale Community Chest as longtime volunteers are weary and ready to call it a day.
“Maybe the community chest has run its course,” says Doug Hall, president for 30+ years. “Several board members and the secretary treasurer have been at this since the mid 1980s and others have been either volunteering or on the board for over 15 years,” he added.
“Our door-to-door canvassers are also the same vintage. We need new ideas and people to carry on, or else the Fruitvale Community Chest will disband.”
Fundraising has become very challenging over the years and running a non-profit has become increasingly bureaucratic, says Hall.
“It’s like a millstone for us,” explained Hall, whose wife, Barbara, was secretary treasurer for 30+ years.
“Now you have to file this and you have to file that … my wife and I are just done. The other thing, is we need some different ways of raising money other than door-to-door canvass … But none of us have the energy to do that anymore.”
Before the chest shuts for good, members are giving it a last-ditch effort by holding a meeting in the Fruitvale Memorial Hall on Tuesday, April 16 at 7 p.m.
The group is hoping for a better attendance than their annual general meeting earlier in March, which drew the interest of only one person outside the members themselves.
“Fruitvale is very generous, the fact that we can consistently raise $25,000 over the years shows that,” Hall said. “And it is easy to come and be part of the Christmas Hampers Program,” he added.
“But this program can’t exist if nobody raises the money or keeps the books.”
Since 1974 the “chest” has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes immediate to the Beaver Valley and for various charities in surrounding communities.
For a number of years, $7,000 has been used to pack 120 Christmas hampers with food, gifts, and a turkey with all the fixings, for low income families in the Beaver Valley. Another $3,000 is donated to help keep the Fruitvale food bank running throughout the year.
The balance is given to local nonprofits and organizations such as the health foundation at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, the Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Air Cadets, Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre and each June, they provide a graduate with a JL Crowe Citizen Scholarship.
Historically, the Community Chest was mainly kept afloat by Cominco employees whereby their payroll deductions were matched by the company. Other top-ups were gained through door-to-door and mail-in contributions as well as tidings from local service clubs, businesses, and churches.
The payroll funds stopped awhile back. Increasingly, the Community Chest has experienced what many other local and national charities report – the need is still there and growing, but money is becoming more difficult to raise.
That’s why new energy and fresh ideas are essential to keep the non-profit moving ahead.
“We have asked people to step forward to serve on the board, be secretary treasurer and help in the raising of money by running events like dances, walk/runs or golf tournaments,” Doug concluded.
“The current board is tired and we need real volunteers to step up and do the hard work.”
Years of goodwill were recognized in 2017 when the Fruitvale Community Chest was named Beaver Valley Citizen of the Year.