More than 2,000 families are celebrating a brighter holiday season thanks to acts of kindness by people they will never meet.
Every year, Victorians open their hearts and wallets to help. About $250,000 will be distributed in the form of vouchers for groceries and toys.
“It’s affirms my belief in people,” said Tim Trebilcock, one of three people who sort through the donations. “It’s something special to see all these people coming together to help others.”
The Times Colonist Christmas Fund has been helping less fortunate individuals and families in Victoria celebrate the holidays for 56 years. While the Times Colonist pays for the administration and handling costs to distribute the funds, the money to buy gift vouchers for people in need comes from donations made by the public.
And although Christmas has passed, the need remains, and donations are still being accepted.
Trebilcock looks after the telephone, taking donations people put on their credit cards. Donations can also be mailed in, pledged online or made by coming to the Times Colonist office. The donations range from $5 to thousands of dollars.
Some people donate in memory of a family member, others as a challenge for friends to match.
But many seek no recognition for their charity. Asked to be interviewed about their philanthropy, most people declined, insisting their act of kindness was not worth talking about.
Trebilcock said that when a name is put on a donation, it is usually in the memory of a loved one or family member.
Other times it is a group that has put on its own fundraising activities and wants to issue a friendly challenge to other groups to match or beat their efforts. Sometimes it is a business or organization that wishes to thank the community where they do business.
But the most moving is when people donate in the name of their children or relatives.
“People will often donate in a child’s name,” Trebilcock said.
“The hope is that by seeing their name in print, [the act of charity] will connect in the mind of the child.”
The job, while only six weeks long, is hugely rewarding emotionally, he said.
“It’s something special to see all these people coming together every year to help,” he said.
“It’s very affirming knowing people remember others. For me, it is the reason for the season.”
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