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Charities benefitting from SHARE

Get Bear Smart hoping to fund two memorial programs for Jeanie the bear



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.