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

Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
Over 42,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine given to South Okanagan residents

That includes more than half of the residents in the Penticton local health area

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in Naramata

Expect big police presence in the area this week as the investigation continues

Keremeos RCMP reported May 12, 2021 that missing man Nathan Bell, 38, has been found safe. (Contributed)
Missing Keremeos man found safe

Nathan Bell, 38, was last seen April 29 before being located

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Michelle St. Pierre, UBCO’s 2021 graduate student researcher of the year, is hoping to change the discussion surrounding the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. (UBCO photo)
UBCO researcher examining therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs

Michelle St. Pierre has been researching the use of psychedelics since 2015

Most Read