British Columbia

Filled with love: Small business owner uses proceeds from holiday crates to buy gifts for homeless

The owners of Totely Created in Kamloops, B.C., are selling holiday boxes for families to fill with goodies, and using the proceeds for gifts for homeless people.

'We didn't realize how bad it was out there'

Selina Olsen is using her business to create Christmas gifts and give back to the community. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

After spending a Christmas on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside handing out food and clothes to the city's homeless, a Kamloops, B.C., couple started to think their holiday gifting habits were excessive.

"We didn't realize how bad it was out there," said Selina Olsen. "From that year forward we have maybe two gifts each, and the rest that we would have spent on each other, we now donate to other things."

Olsen and her husband Kevin are the owners of Totely Created, a wooden crate company in Kamloops.

This year, they're running a campaign to help some of the city's most vulnerable people. They've created what they call a Christmas Eve Box — a small wooden box they encourage families to decorate together and put goodies in to enjoy over the holidays. Part of the proceeds from each box goes toward buying items homeless people need to get through the winter. 

"We are so blessed in our lives, we have a beautiful home, we have friends, family, clothes. There's so many people out there that have nothing. Even a simple pair of socks can make someone's day."

Olsen said she already spends $1,000 a year on supplies for homeless people throughout the year, but she wanted to include her business in her charitable ventures to try to get other people thinking about helping the homeless community. 

"We just hope to lead by example," she said. 

So far, the Olsens have sold 130 Christmas Eve boxes and raised $800. 

They've taken 50 gift bags and 60 pairs of socks to the New Life Community, and they'll be taking more gifts and supplies to the ASK Wellness Society. 

Selina and Kevin Olsen have put together 50 goody bags filled with gift cards and candy to donate to the New Life Community and ASK Wellness Society in Kamloops. As they sell more of their boxes, they'll donate more. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

"At this time of the year, it's bittersweet," said ASK Wellness Society executive director Bob Hughes. "Most families like mine are excited about being together. For so many of the people we work with and encounter on a day to day basis, this is a lonely time. Being reminded the community cares .. it's inspirational for us."

With files from Jenifer Norwell

About the Author

Courtney Dickson

Broadcast and Digital Journalist

Courtney Dickson is a journalist working in Kamloops, B.C. Email her at courtney.dickson@cbc.ca with story tips.