Businesses plan to dress red for charity
Merritt’s businesses plan to paint the town red on Valentine’s Day as part of the Dress Red for Heart and Stroke campaign.
Hub International Barton Insurance Area Manager Jo Ann Irvine started the campaign in Merritt when she moved here in 2003.
She said that since her first year in Merritt, when just her workplace participated, businesses here have adopted the cause with gusto.
“I think Merrittonians are well-known for just about any opportunity to raise money and have fun doing it,” Irvine said. “It is just something Merrittonians absolutely excel at.”
At its peak, the event had 36 participating groups and raised over $4,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“What some Merrittonians may not know is that the money we raise during this Dress Red event stays in the Nicola Valley for people,” Irvine said. “It doesn’t go into a big general pot somewhere. We’re making sure there’s funds available for our people when they need it.”
Businesses enrol their employees for a minimum donation of $5 per person and dress themselves and their workspaces in red in an effort to win over a panel of judges. The top prize is a gift basket, although the basket’s contents for this year weren’t determined by press time.
She modelled it after the contest she helped start in 1999 while employed in insurance in Prince George.
“A co-worker mentioned that Heart and Stroke would be a great cause for us to do some fundraising for, and we put our heads together, looked for some of the options they had, and we found that one of them was called Dress Red for Heart and Stroke,” she said. “It looked as though it was an opportunity to have a great deal more fun, so we thought, ‘If we put our special little twist on it, which is to do things with vigor, that we might be able to raise more funds and make it far more visible and create a really fun day.’”
Irvine said one reason the fundraiser is so successful is because of its fun spirit.
“It’s a great deal of fun and a chance to create awareness, and it’s a nice fun thing for the town because it’s after Christmas and New Year’s, and it’s before spring break,” she said. “February tends to be a bit of a ‘blah’ month, and it gives us something fun to do.”
Irvine said there is no financial goal set for fundraising, and that it’s “highly rewarding” to watch the event grow. She also said she’s looking forward to having it back this year after a one-year hiatus, when Hub employees said they were too busy to organize the event.