Lightning Rock Winery dedicated a portion of tasting room sales to help This Bag and raised enough to be able to give out one grant to a small business hurting from COVID. (Contributed)

Lightning Rock Winery dedicated a portion of tasting room sales to help This Bag and raised enough to be able to give out one grant to a small business hurting from COVID. (Contributed)

Okanagan non-profit helps small businesses hurting under COVID-19

This Bag Helps is hoping to hand out even more micro-grants this round

Okanagan small business owners Susie and Bryan Gay were experiencing their own struggles due to COVID-19 and decided to focus their energy into creating a non-profit initiative to support others in the same position.

The concept they came up with is a locally-made and designed tote bag donning the words ‘This Bag Helped a Small Business’ with 100 per cent of the profits put into micro-grants for small businesses.

Their family’s seasonal tourism-based businesses, Antlers Surf lifestyle apparel and Penticton Paddle Surf rentals were put on hold because of COVID.

That’s when Susie chose to turn a negative into a positive and help others through this crisis.

READ MORE: Local family launch This Bag Helps

Since then, with the generous support of the community, they have been able to help a diverse array of small businesses both locally in the Okanagan, Vancouver and across the country. And they are gearing up to hand out their second round of micro-grants soon.

“It’s been amazing to see the impact of these small grants. So many businesses had us close to tears sharing how the grant would help and bring hope. Their stories are heartwarming and diverse,” said Susie. “Balilia, a family run restaurant who even though they were struggling, started a program to donate meals to health workers in their community. Sitti Soap, who employees refugee women, and is working hard to have no layoffs during the pandemic.”

They have been especially touched to see businesses supporting other businesses. Almost half of the funds raised came from small businesses buying bags, donating or sponsoring grants.

One of those local businesses is Summerland based Lightning Rock Winery, who supported the cause by donating a portion of proceeds from every bottle of Viognier wine sold in their tasting room this summer.

“They ended up raising enough funds for a full grant,” raved Susie.

Okanagan non-profit helps small businesses hurting under COVID-19

Twelve businesses and organizations have been helped so far by This Bag.

“Whether the grant helps out with a rent payment or insurance, sometimes a little boost is all that is needed to keep your favourite small business alive,” said Susie.

Susie and Bryan have received close to 500 applications and keep receiving more applications every day.

“Sadly, the need is still great,” said Susie.

So they’ve decided to do a drive to raise even more funds to help more small businesses struggling through this pandemic.

Until Oct. 15, when you buy a Help a Small Business tote or T-shirt, they are including a bonus bag or shirt with the intention it will be gifted on, further spreading the message and giving help and support to struggling small businesses. Enter ‘BOGO’ in the order comments at thisbag.ca. A small bag is just $24 and comes in two colours.

Thanks to their daughter’s compassion, the project has evolved to support other causes that make an impact locally and globally: giving clean water, helping the bees, feeding a child and educating a girl – which has raised enough to sponsor education for two girls in Africa thus far, through B.C. based organization, One Girl Can. Susie and Bryan’s nine-year-old daughter has gotten right behind that cause, helping spread awareness and even packaging orders.

“I love school and think every girl should have the right to education,” said their daughter Sadie.

“The project was born out of a heart to support small businesses that make up the framework of our communities. They closed their doors to help keep everyone safe and well, and This Bag’s mission is to now offer the support they need as they reopen or adapt in this ever-changing marketplace,” said Susie.

If you would like to sponsor a grant or donate go to thisbag.ca/sponsor-or-donate.



monique.Tamminga@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

Peachland’s vaccination clinic was cancelled because according to the system, no one booked appointments. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
System ‘glitch’ causes Peachland vaccination clinic cancellation

The clinic will be back in Peachland on April 22 instead

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A in Princeton

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read