Emergency student support the focus on National Philanthropy Day at UBC Okanagan

As students near and far grapple with the challenges posed by COVID-19, UBC Okanagan is marking National Philanthropy Day on November 15 by shining a spotlight on its student emergency assistance fund, which has recently been topped up thanks to local donor support and designed to give temporary financial relief to those most in need.

When donors Anna Hunt-Binkley and Manse Binkley gave $100,000 to UBC Okanagan as it first opened in 2005 to create the A.W. Hunt QC Student Emergency Assistance Endowment Fund, they could never have anticipated how important that fund would become during a global pandemic 15 years later.

The couple established the endowment in honour of Hunt-Binkley’s father, A.W. Hunt. Its funds provide year-round, temporary financial relief for both domestic and international students at the undergraduate and graduate level. More than 60 students have benefitted from these funds since it was created.

“It has been extremely gratifying to create the fund, to see it grow and to see it being used by so many students in need,” says Hunt-Binkley. “My dad would have been honoured and pleased. He had a strong work ethic and cherished the value of upholding one’s principles while always having a twinkle in his eye. Over the years, he demonstrated the importance of helping those trying their best who fell on hard times.”

A surge in student need as a result of COVID-19 moved the couple to give even more with an additional $25,000 contribution to the fund. That was matched by UBC Okanagan’s Aspire Fund, resulting in a $50,000 boost to the endowment.

“We are deeply grateful to Anna and Manse for renewing their longstanding support for UBC Okanagan students and stepping up at this most critical time of need,” says Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal of UBC Okanagan. “The availability of emergency assistance makes a tremendous difference for students in times of serious need and I join everyone at UBC Okanagan in thanking Anna and Manse for their generosity and leadership.”

Since April 2020, 30 students have received aid from the A.W. Hunt QC Student Emergency Assistance Fund. A total of $34,486 has been provided to domestic, international, undergraduate and graduate students, with an average award amount of $1,150. Emergency expenses ranged in order of greatest need, from housing to food, travel and medical expenses.

“This is our way to continue the spirit of my father,” says Hunt-Binkley. “Sometimes it doesn’t take much to take the step across adversity, and by reading several of the cards of thanks from various students, that is just what this fund is doing.”

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