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Overwaitea philanthropy is food for thought

Do you know how deeply entrenched Overwaitea is in this community?
Some of Overwaitea’s 40-plus team. (Todd McMullen/Special to Arrow Lakes News)

You go there every week to pick up your groceries, chat to fellow Arrow Lakes residents, check out the specials, and plan your meals. But do you know how deeply entrenched Overwaitea is in this community?

“There’s a lot of things that don’t get a lot of public attention but we are behind the scenes with all of them,” says Todd McMullen, the store manager. He flips through a binder full of requests, organized by month, since the start of the year, before he even got here. “We support almost every event in the community, whether it be school events or community groups.”

And he is right: almost every event and group so far this year is noted in the binder. It’s hard to list them all.

The Gord Roberts Blue Knuckle Derby, the turkey toss, the Rotary conference, the Ambassador events, the Women’s Wellness Day; school trips, student events and groups, and even the parents’ council, fundraisers of all sorts, presentations and meetings. Everyone and everything seems to have Overwaitea’s support. For a very special cause, Overwaitea even helped with a fundraising push at the till.

Overwaitea featured heavily on Canada Day: their float won first prize in the business float category. They donated food to quite a number of the other organizations on hand, while staffing their own booth to help with raising funds for the B.C. Children’s Hospital, for which Pepsi donated their products.

Overwaitea donated 200 lbs. of bacon, at over $2,000 retail, to the Firemen’s Pancake Breakfast and sold 1,000 rubber ducks to help put on the fireworks. At $5 each, and with $2,000 in prizes, there is no profit in it for Overwaitea; the remaining $3,000 was donated to the Nakusp Fire Department to pay for the fireworks that the whole town could enjoy.

McMullen moved to Nakusp in April with his young family and appreciates how involved his team members are in the community, so he wants to make sure their efforts are properly acknowledged.

“There was a running joke in the store,” he says, “that I’d have to wear the duck suit if we didn’t sell well [the rubber ducks]. I said, guys, I don’t want to wear the duck suit, so Sylvia (Klein) and Denise (Brooks) did all of that. We sold out early this year.”

They really care about these causes because this is home for all of them, McMullen said.

“It’s different than in other parts where they might not live where the store is,” he said.

With school out for the summer, the requests slow down. They donate juice for Music in the Park and await the return of local events and groups in September, and then the binder will fill up again.