Maxine DeHart (left) received the United Way Southern Interior BC Community Distinction Award from Marianne Dahl, marketing and events manger of United Way Southern Interior BC. Monday night. (Alistair Waters-Black Press Media)

United Way recognizes Maxine DeHart

Architect of hugely successful drive-thru fundraising breakfast given Community Distinction Award

Maxine DeHart has been recognized for her tireless work helping raise money for the United Way.

The architect of the very successful Maxine DeHart Ramada Hotel United Way Drive-Thru Breakfast, which ran for 20 years in Kelowna, was named the recipient of the 2019 United Way of South Interior BC Community Distinction Award Monday night.

The breakfast raised a total of just over $850,000 during it run and, according to the United Way, helped improve the lives of an estimated 20,000 people thanks to those funds.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said DeHart after receiving the award. “I was not expecting this at all.”

The well-known local hotelier, city councillor and long-time Capital News columnist, is a past director of the United Way and served as its board chairwoman in 1998. In 1999 as chairwoman for the annul United Way fundraising campaign, she organized the first drive-thru breakfast to help meet that year’s campaign goal.

READ MORE: Kelowna gives generously for Maxine DeHart’s last United Way breakfast

And for the next two decades, she did it again and again and again, and each year the event grew in size and popularity. At one point, because cars were causing traffic jams waiting to get into the drive-thru—held in the parking lot of the Ramada Hotel where DeHart works—the RCMP volunteered to help out and direct traffic. Its services were needed from then on.

Over the years, participants were more than happy to wait in line to make a donation to the United Way in return for breakfast and a “goody bag” filled with prizes and promotions from the many sponsors DeHart convinced to join the event.

The drive-thru breakfast became the largest single annual fundraising event for the local United Way and earlier this year, the 20th, and final, breakfast raised a record $110,000.

But DeHart’s contribution to the umbrella charity organization went beyond organizing the breakfast.

She also served on the United Way’s board of directors for 10 years, as well as the board of the United Way’s annual golf tournament.

In accepting her award at the United Way annual community appreciation reception, DeHart thanked the sponsors of the breakfast, the volunteers who helped make it possible and the public for continuing to turn out and support it year after year.

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