The Saunders Foundation returned to the Cowichan Valley earlier this month to hand out another $10,000 to local groups, with sports organizations collecting the bulk of the donations.
Bob Saunders, owner of Victoria’s Saunders Subaru and founder of the foundation, was born and raised in Duncan, and has made annual pilgrimages in the last few years to pass out thousands of dollars to a wide range of organizations.
"My heart is here still," Saunders said.
The big beneficiary was KidSport Cowichan, which received $5,000, raised specifically for the group through a golf tournament organized by Saunders’s brother, Bill, at the Cowichan Golf and Country Club in September.
Cowichan Secondary School Thunderbirds basketball, Cowichan Eagles soccer, the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association and the Admiral Mainguy Sea Cadets each received $500, while the Cowichan Valley Lacrosse Association, South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club and Duncan Christian School athletics each received $1,000.
The Cowichan golf course is also the location of the Saunders foundation’s annual tournament each May, which this year raised $45,000.
The tournament, which sells out every year, is a big part of why the foundation can be so generous. According to Jim ten Hove, who organizes the big event, the foundation tries to fill all requests for funding in addition to handing out donations like they did earlier this month.
"Anybody that comes and asks, we don’t turn anybody down, but we also want to give back to the community," he said.
The foundation has also provided extensive funding to high school music programs on Vancouver Island, and is particularly proud of the Comfy Car program that helps get young cancer patients from the Island to the BC Children’s Hospital.