While being an “influencer” can be fun and creative, for me the most important thing about having this platform is to use it to fuel positive change. One way I like to do this is by investing in organizations in our communities that are doing amazing work. (For instance, through our Sponsored Families initiative.)
The goal of our Sponsored Families initiative is to help support immediate needs, strengthen community members’ ability to thrive, and to foster a more inclusive sense of community. Investing in this initiative has become a tradition for Team Jilly and I each holiday season, and this year it was an integral part of our 12 Days of Giving campaign. Each of the 12 brands partnered with myself and Team Jilly to invest a whopping $60,000 to our Sponsored Families initiative! That’s $5,000 invested by each brand who participated in Jilly’s 12 Days of Giving. PLUS, Mad About Style made a $2,000 investment as well, bringing the grand total to $62,000!! Additionally, A. Vogel contributed Echinaforce—an herbal remedy to help strengthen immune systems—to our Sponsored Famillies initiative that we also included in our gifts to the families. Thank you to every single one of the brands for your generosity! I am so grateful to work in collaboration with brands who also value giving back to our communities.
Now, you may be asking yourselves, who are the organizations being supported through the Sponsored Families program? The investment will be going towards KCR Community Resources, Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society, Mamas for Mamas, Central Okanagan Community Food Bank.
In total, we were able to sponsor 4 organizations and 24 families this year! (Please note we did not select the families to sponsor, we have entrusted this responsibility to these amazing organizations who directly serve the community all year round.)
If you haven’t heard of these organizations before, let me tell you a little bit about each one:
KCR is a not-for-profit organization that offers amazing programs like employment resources, family & adoption services, and immigrant support. Their aim is to foster diversity, collaboration and resourcefulness.
The Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society provides culturally appropriate programs and inclusive services that are free and confidential. Their mission is to meet the needs of Urban Indigenous people to become healthier, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Mamas for Mamas is a national not-for-profit organization that helps mothers and caregivers experiencing economic hardship. Their mission is to change the landscape of poverty through innovative approaches to financial barriers faced by struggling families.
My relationship with Mamas for Mamas has been a long and beautiful one. They are such a special organization, and if you’d like to read more about our first project together, read this blog post about the renovation of their space.
The Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB) is the largest food bank in the Interior of BC. They have two locations: one in Kelowna and one in West Kelowna. Their goal is to ensure that everyone requiring food assistance gets the nutrition they need. If you would like to learn more and find out how you can get involved, visit their website.
In terms of how this money is used, in the past, we have done two things: one year we did all of the shopping on each family’s wish list, and another year we provided each family with gift cards so they can do their own shopping. This year, we decided to instead purchase gifts and gift cards, and we delivered those boxes to each organization.
If you are feeling inspired to help your local community after reading this blog post (which I sure hope is the case!), here is some information on how you can give back:
How you can give back!
“Where do I start?” This is often the question we hear from friends and family when they are beginning their give-back journey. The truth is there are a lot of systemic inequities in our world which means there are a lot of organizations focussing on different social impact initiatives. Whether your contribution is a monetary gift, volunteering your time, or donating a toy or blankets, check out local organizations in your area doing impactful work and find out how you can get involved!