A small-town project that has garnered some big-time exposure is celebrating its first anniversary this weekend.
The Osoyoos Gift Cupboard — the brainchild of three Osoyoos women — began as a simple outdoor cupboard installed near Town Hall last October.
It has since blossomed to become an informal source of service to the needy in the community, including providing a resource for those displaced by fire and other home emergency, offering soup on a cold night, helping seasonal workers with cases of shampoo and body cream, fundraising for supplies and providing diapers and school supplies for local children.
“It has been a real pleasure to meet some of the folks who have expressed an interest in our project,” said Brenda Dorosz, one of the organizers. “We have helped so many locals and visitors through the generosity of business, other residents and even through the Town of Osoyoos.”
Much of that help comes in the form of distributing simple items through the Gift Cupboard, located in front of the Osoyoos Art Gallery on Main Street. The Cupboard is provided as a service to anyone in the community who might need a common personal item but doesn’t have the time or money to get it from a store.
Almost every day, one of the three organizers — Ms. Dorosz, Gaye Horn or Jen Shiels — visits the Cupboard with toiletries and other items left in donation bins throughout town or otherwise purchased with Gift Cupboard funds (some of which are provided by the three organizers themselves.)
“Toys given to a crying child. A first aid kit to a travelling man. A band aid to a girl with a bleeding finger.”
Ms. Dorosz recalls just a few of the the many people the cupboard has helped.
Last December, the call went out for mitts, scarves and other clothing essentials for the homeless.
Later that same month, the trio mounted an effort to make Christmas for a young family in the community that had fallen through the cracks.
At Easter, it was another success story.
“A young family was here from the ‘Big City’ and their little girl ended up with nothing from the Easter Bunny,” recalls Ms. Horn. “So it happened that we had a brand new bunny with her name on it. We offered this to the little girl on behalf of the Easter bunny and the Gift Cupboard.
“The parents were blown away by this small gesture of giving.”
The Cupboard also introduced John and Victoria — 91 and 84 respectively.
“They’ve been married 70 some years and they are thrilled to get small items throughout the year, such as a warm scarf, a pair of mitts and, of all things, laundry detergent.
“it just touches your heart to see someone so happy with such a small thing.”
News of the Cupboard’s success has spread — either through word of mouth or via news feature.
“We have had enquiries from Kelowna, Calgary, Winnipeg, Grand Forks , New Bruswick and Texas,” said Ms. Dorosz. “We’re meeting people from all over the world travelling to our piece of paradise, happily using the Cupboard.”
“There have been so many moments where this little Gift Cupboard has been everything we dreamed it could be and more.”
The Gift Cupboard plans to mark its anniversary this Sunday between 1 and 2:30 p.m. in the way it best knows how — by encouraging small acts of kindness.
It is asking local residents to stop by with a donation for the cupboard.
If a warm heart isn’t sufficient motivation to entice you to this effort, the Gift Cupboard is planning draws for local gift certificates involving all those who participate.