Northern organization Pay It Forward NWT is in the process of becoming a registered non-profit.
The organization’s founder Renee Sanderson has lived in Yellowknife for nine years after her and her husband relocated from their hometown, Fort Smith.
Sanderson said she felt the need to give back to the community after encountering homeless people in downtown Yellowknife.
“I was always raised to give back where I can,” said Sanderson, so six years ago she founded Pay it Forward NWT with an event called Christmas in July.
“We had backpacks filled with goodies for the homeless, so that’s how it started,” she said.
A couple of years after that she created the Pay It Forward NWT Facebook group to help people in the North give back to their communities and share information about charity initiatives and organizations.
That group now has over 1,600 members and they published their first-ever newsletter this month.
“Every year it keeps growing and growing,” she said, but one of the biggest challenges she’s run into over the years has been finding storage space.
“Our biggest event is called the Care and Share Toy Drive and the last few years it took over my house,” said Sanderson.
“I bought a little shed for it and I was storing what I could in there, it took up two rooms in my house.”
That pushed her to make Pay It Forward NWT a registered non-profit so she could continue her work, and she is currently in the process of filling out that paperwork.
“We’re looking to get charity status so we can do fundraisers for events and be able to give out tax receipts,” she said.
Seeking out donors every year can be challenging, but becoming a registered charity could encourage more people to give because they get something back, said Sanderson.
Pay It Forward NWT is currently accepting donations for this year’s Care and Share Toy Drive until Dec. 8.