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New wave of charity volunteers

Vancouver, BC—Research shows that Canadians volunteer about 2.1 billion hours annually—the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs. With around 5,000 active annual volunteers, Union Gospel Mission depends on help from the Greater Vancouver community to sustainably meet the needs of those struggling with homelessness, poverty and addiction. In honour of National Volunteer Week, UGM is highlighting Polygon Home’s 11 years of volunteer service which has involved not only Polygon staff, but led to involvement by their friends, family and supporters as well. The culmination of their decade-long volunteer efforts, has led to nearly one million dollars being raised overall.

While many of UGM’s faithful volunteers donate their time to help serve food, talk to guests, mentor kids or sort donations, Polygon employees used their creativity to find their own unique niche.  Since 2001, Polygon has organized a massive Christmas charity raffle, giving away sought after prizes such as five-star trips to exotic places, all to raise funds for those most in need in Vancouver. Entitling the event the 12 Days of Christmas Raffle, Polygon received prizes and help from 43 sponsors, allowing them to give away 13 prizes, including a two-week, five-star trip to Bali; a gourmet dinner on a private yacht across English Bay; or a private suite viewing of a Vancouver Canucks Game.

“Polygon Homes is an excellent example of social corporate responsibility,” says UGM president Bill Mollard. “They’ve taken the initiative upon themselves to creatively give back, helping UGM provide food, shelter, housing and much more to those in our community. On behalf of UGM I want to thank Polygon employees as well as the other 5,000 volunteers for working with us to meet the most pressing needs in our community.”

Through raffle proceeds, Polygon has been able to faithfully support the efforts of Union Gospel Mission, by providing the organization with special vehicles, meeting their transportation needs.

This year, however, the funds will support UGM’s Eastsiders—an afterschool kid’s program for elementary school kids on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Every Friday, Eastsiders participate in field trips to places they might not have otherwise explored—like the Vancouver Aquarium or Grouse Mountain. This year’s donations raised totaled $140,000—bringing the decade total to $955,000.

“It’s not Polygon who gives UGM this money,” says Neil Chrystal, President of Polygon Homes. “It’s the generosity of all our friends, families, colleagues, suppliers, trades, consultants, and everyone who purchases tickets and makes donations that make the difference. We just facilitate the raffle and make it fun.”

The facilitation of the raffle is run by a committee of Polygon employees who volunteer their time to make the fundraiser possible. They start as early as summer and announce the winners in the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

In the past decade, Polygon Homes has helped provide UGM with numerous vehicles including food transport trucks, passenger vans and cars to meet transportation needs in the community. UGM’s most famous vehicle is the Mobile Mission. Several nights a week, the fully outfitted rescue vehicle travels through alleyways, along beaches, under bridges and into parking garages, seeking out those sleeping on the streets to offer food, warm clothing and encouragement as well as information on UGM’s life-changing programs, including shelter, drop-in and meal services, and alcohol and drug recovery.

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 9 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit www.ugm.ca.

02/04/2012

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