WARM HOLIDAY DELIGHTS SERVED
This past holiday season, the community proved that you don’t need snow to revel in the joy of a JoeAnna’s House Winter Wonderland. Sometimes, all you need is one another.
Over the past few years, the KGH Foundation’s annual community fundraiser for JoeAnna’s House had taken place in October, right around Thanksgiving. The one-day radiothon, Better Together Day, was a fruitful collaboration with our radio partners at Pattison Media that generated thousands in funds for the home away from home for the families of patients who’d had to travel to Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) for advanced care. Donations were collected mostly online, save for a few committed donors who chose to come to JoeAnna’s House and give a gift in person.
We always felt like it was a bit of a missed opportunity. And so, together with our friends at Pattison, Save-On-Foods and many other community minded businesses, we re-imagined it! And Winter Wonderland was born.
With a promise of ‘magical togetherness’—family pictures with Santa (pets too!), street hockey, local singing groups and dancers, a beverage garden, a curated offering of some of the best local holiday vendors and rare tours of JoeAnna’s House itself—the hope was that Winter Wonderland would be the perfect way for families and friends of all ages and stages to kick-off the holiday season.
Indeed, as the sun rose on Sunday, December 17, our beautiful JoeAnna’s House had never looked so magical. The volunteers arrived and donned their Santa hats, street vendors began to set up their trucks and tables, and the savoury aromas of warm apple cider and sweet baked treats began to fill the air. The anticipation grew… would anyone come?
Thankfully, we didn’t have to worry for long. Several guests arrived even before the 1pm start time and for the next four hours, Winter Wonderland became the celebration of community connection it was envisioned to be. Royal Avenue was alight with the spirit of the season.
The Okanagan Youth Choir and Kelowna Community Chorus set the tone with beloved holiday carols and songs, and talented dancers from The Village Dance Academy delighted with a festive themed performance. A group of local cadets wowed the crowd with a seasonal ensemble.
The biggest surprise was the raucous street hockey game! Hoards of kiddos eager to slap sticks with some famous local mascots, including the Westside Warriors General and Big White’s Loose Moose, got their game on while their parents enjoyed a break with some delicious gluwein and ciders from The View and craft beer from Red Bird.
“The only way I can really describe the day is that it was… absolutely magical,” laughs Darlene Haslock, Director of JoeAnna’s House. “So many people came down with their families to take part and support JoeAnna’s House. It just warms my heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick-off the holiday season.”
Prestige Resorts and Hotels provided the title sponsorship for the event’s first year, and Pattison Media stations The Lizard and Beach Radio broadcasted live on location as the exclusive radio media sponsor.
JoeAnna’s House continues to rely on the generosity of the community to remain open. The inaugural Winter Wonderland raised over $61,000.
“Will we be back next year? Oh yes!” says KGH Foundation Manager of Community Engagement and Events, Carly Malchuk. “We are just getting started!”
“Of course, we are always Better Together,” says Darlene, drawing inspiration from the now iconic JoeAnna’s House slogan. “We are grateful to all our sponsors, partners, and volunteers for supporting this event and are just delighted to have been able to share a bit of the magic of JoeAnna’s House with so many people. Thank you to everyone who came out to support us.”
BUILT BY THE HEARTS & HANDS OF COMMUNITY
In 2018, over $8 million was raised to fund the construction and opening of JoeAnna’s House. Since receiving its first guests in November 2019, JoeAnna’s House has provided a safe haven for over 1,900 regional families needing a place to stay close to KGH while their loved ones received advanced medical care.