Two local area directors with the Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) are giving back to the community, partnering up to donate $3500 to two Merritt-based non-profit societies. Directors Herb Graham and David Laird donated $750 each to the Merritt Centennials, and $1000 each to the Merritt Senior Citizens Association, aiding in the group’s COVID recovery.

While the TNRD itself offers grants and other funding streams that non-profit organizations and charities can apply for, the cash for these donations came from an annual contingency fund that area directors have access to. While this is their latest donation, Laird and Graham say they’ve been supporting local organizations since pandemic restrictions began to lift earlier this year.

“Director Laird and myself have been helping out local societies in our community ever since COVID finished,” said Graham.

“We still had some discretionary funds, so we thought we would help the senior citizens, because we are senior citizens. The Centennials hockey club provides a great service to our community so we helped them out, too.”

Both organizations were grateful for the boost in funds at a time when social activities and community events are still recovering from years of restrictions, and are making official plans on how to best utilize the money. Graham added that reaction from both groups to the news of the donations were highly positive.

While this source of funding isn’t an official one that local organizations can apply for, the TNRD directors said their process for deciding where to distribute funds is calculated, and strict criteria must be met. They added that both the Seniors Association and the Cents have suffered greatly during the pandemic, especially in their fundraising ability.

“The seniors, for the last two years of COVID, haven’t had the opportunity to raise any sort of funds,” said Laird, TNRD director, and a former Merritt mayor.

“I went over and talked to them, and what they’re doing now is planning to give out free meals to the seniors. They needed some new equipment in the kitchen, so I suggested that we get a thousand dollars from each of us.”

Herb Graham and David Laird dropping off their check at the Merritt Senior Citizens Association. Marius Auer/Herald

With the extra dollars now in their bank accounts, the Seniors Association and Cents team have a helping hand as they prepare to give back to the community, and for another season on the ice. Some of the funding received by the team will go towards the Centennials Annual Icebreaker event, a charity function in support of the local hockey club.

Moving forward, both organizations, as well as both TNRD directors, are focused on supporting the community as it recovers from a turbulent two years.