Non-profits in the Nanaimo area will see $20,000 from the Garrett Paquette Fund for Families in Need. (Karl Yu/Nanaimo News Bulletin)

Non-profits in Nanaimo will receive $20,000 in gift cards following Movember fundraiser

Garrett Paquette Fund for Families in Need donates Country Grocer gift cards

A Nanaimo charitable fund has come up with $20,000 worth of Country Grocer gift cards for numerous mid-Island non-profit organizations.

The Garrett Paquette Fund for Families in Need, in partnership with Country Grocer and Pepsi Co., donated $5,000 worth of gift cards to the Haven Society for Nanaimo and Oceanside, Nanaimo Foodshare, Nanaimo Family Life Association and Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island.

The economy has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the non-profits said the gift cards are coming at an opportune time.

Toni Wheeler, executive director of Haven Society, which provides shelter and support for women and children who are victims of violence, said the coronavirus crisis is putting a strain on families and the people the society serves.

“The gift cards themselves take a little bit of the pressure off of what families are experiencing, just because of the whole economic fallout of COVID-19,” said Wheeler.

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Karen Love, executive director for Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island, said the coronavirus has affected her organization with 80 layoffs. The gift cards are welcomed, she said.

“Traditionally we have always relied on other agencies to give us support for food, so I think what these gift cards do is it gives us the opportunity to actually go out serve our own families … as an agency,” said Love. “So we’ve actually surveyed families and have got families waiting on these cards already.”

The fund is named after Garrett Paquette, who died in November 2011. He was raising funds for Movember at the time and the money was raised during the 2019 Garrett Paquette MoMo Seafood Extravaganza.

Roger Paquette, Garrett’s father, said the fundraising event has been going 10 years and reflects his son’s giving nature.

“He’d be extremely proud of the community and of the people that he’d be helping through this organization … Garrett was always about reaching out and helping people, so this is just an extension of what he would want to see, ” said Paquette.

The Garrett Paquette Fund for Families in Need, which is held in trust through the Nanaimo Foundation, contributed $10,000, with Country Grocer matching that and Linda Kitzul, Country Grocer spokesperson, said she was pleased to assist.

“To present them with gift cards as well, I can’t be more proud to be a part of the Country Grocer team,” said Kitzul.

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