Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Help the LITE shine through this fall

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It’s never been easier to help your community grow and prosper.
LITE (Local Investment Towards Employment) recently kicked off its first-ever fall fundraising campaign dubbed Put Your Donation To Work. It’s part of the north Winnipeg-based organization’s ongoing mission to support economic development in inner-city Winnipeg.
The fall fundraising campaign, which has a goal of $80,000, is something LITE officials have wanted to undertake for some time.
"This had been something our executive director, Tana Hendren, had been wanting to do for years, but just never had the staff capacity to do," says Sara Atnikov, development co-ordinator for LITE.
LITE has rolled out fundraising kits which contain materials to help out supporters, including fundraising ideas, brochures and request forms for other materials. The idea is for the kits, which became available Nov. 1, to be picked up by work, school or church groups.
"We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people," Atnikov says.
While LITE fundraises continuously during the year, it has never tried this kind of campaign before. Given that most of the organization’s fundraising takes place during the holiday season anyway, it made sense to have the new campaign coincide with its busiest time of year.
 "This year we decided to officially launch it, to bring more attention to it, and to make it more tangible to people," Atnikov says.
The not-for-profit organization started in 1994 with its Alternative Christmas Hamper program. LITE purchases food items from inner-city businesses, which are then given to Christmas hamper programs around the city. Five years later, it began offering Community Economic Development grants to organizations which offer programs that promote employment and building capacity in the area.
One of the organizations benefitting from those grants is IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba). Through the grants provided by LITE, IRCOM has been able to undertake projects which have seen new immigrants living on-site at IRCOM get their first paid job experiences in Canada.
"Rather than hiring external contractors or outside staff to do work, we wanted to empower the local folks here who had a lot of skills, but often informal," says Noelle DePape, director of training and development at IRCOM.
Those workers have taken on projects which include painting buildings and installing environmentally friendly plumbing fixtures in IRCOM suites under the leadership of professional mentors who come in to teach those skills at no charge. This year, they even renovated IRCOM’s entire office.
In addition to grants, LITE has also been a resource for IRCOM, helping the agency network with other groups.
"Our partnership with LITE has been fantastic," DePape said.
"It’s really developed us as an organization, allowing us to do some of this community economic development work… Through our partnership we’ve really been able to harness and nurture that CED piece."
Proceeds from the fall fundraising campaign will go to LITE’s Working Solutions Fund, to support both the Alternative Christmas Hamper and CED grant programs.
Fundraising kits for the fall campaign can be picked up at the LITE office at 765 Main St. Fundraisers can also call 204-948-7562 to request one.

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