Three of Surrey's most prominent charitable organizations have united in a unique new partnership to keep donated dollars in the city.
The "We Live Here, We Give Here" campaign, launched today, is also designed to raise awareness of work done in the community by the charities involved: Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society and Surrey Food Bank.
The advocacy campaign encourages donations to charities with Surrey-based mandates.
The initiative involves a website (www.weliveherewegivehere.ca) and an ad campaign in the Now newspaper and on its website.
Promotional ads on local buses will also be rolled out this fall.
Surrey residents give more than $100 million to charities every year, with an average of $1,719 per gift, according to Canada Revenue Agency statistics made public by organizers of the campaign.
"Those figures show Surrey has a lot of residents who are giving people," said Jacy Wingson, past chair and executive committee member of Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation.
"Something we want to make Surrey residents aware of is that when they're considering making their donation, that there are charities to support right where they live, an option close to home. Sometimes it's something right in front of you that you don't think about."
In order to donate money, visitors to the campaign website can click on the logo of any of the three charities involved. From there, the user is directed to the website of that charity. As of now, there is no way for a donor to split a dollar amount equally among the three charities.
The campaign, which came together over the past several months, has been launched at a time of year when the majority of people make a charitable donation.
"I think we all saw an opportunity here to come together and make Surrey a better place," said Mike McNamara, president of Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society, which supports a wide variety of programs and the work of other local charities.
Marilyn Herrmann, executive director of Surrey Food Bank, said it's very unique to have three charities come together in such a united way.
"Here in Surrey I've never felt a competition among charities," she said. "We all have a piece of the pie, so to speak, and we're serving the same community.
This (campaign) is just a great way to let people know that they can help their own community. It's just a great feeling that we're sharing the same message, that this is a great community."
Each month, Surrey Food Bank assists some 14,000 people from Surrey and North Delta. Herrmann said $1.3 million is needed each year to keep the busy food bank in operation.
"We're holding our own in terms of meeting the demand, but the demand is growing by 10 to 12 families every day," she said.
Since 1992, Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation has raised more than $60 million for health-related programs and equipment for facilities, including the critical-care tower under construction.
"We really want to make that a state-of-the-art facility when it opens about a year from now," Wingson said. "We certainly can use the support of Surrey residents with that."
Part of the challenge for the hospital foundation, she said, is that when people are healthy, they often don't think of the important role a hospital plays in the community.
Wingson said she's excited by the cooperation shown by the charities involved in the "We Live Here, We Give Here" campaign.
"Surrey is a very fast-growing city but we still seem to have that small-city feel, that small-town feel, where you have charities able to work together for the good of its residents," Wingson said.
In a statement, hospital foundation president/CEO Jane Adams said "there are many worthwhile charities out there, and no doubt all local charities can benefit from a focus on local giving."