“In memory of Chloe and Aubrey Berry.”
In seven words, Sarah Cotton-Elliott embraced the memory of her two young daughters with a donation to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund.
“It is a way to honour them and the joy and selfless love they brought to others,” she said. “Treating people with kindness was so important to Chloe and Aubrey. They both said their superpower was to help people.”
Five years ago on Christmas Day, six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey were murdered by their father. That inconceivable act plunged Sarah into unimaginable grief. She felt as though she was living a nightmare she could never wake from.
Their deaths also devastated the community, which quickly came together to support her in her loss. It’s something Cotton-Elliott has never forgotten.
“I just feel I have to give back in some small way,” she said. “When I look back at it, from all of the volunteers at Christ Church Cathedral who came together to make all the food for more than one thousand people at the reception after the girls’ service, and all of the parents from the girls’ schools who made me meals and sent me messages of support, I am in awe of how this community comes together for people.
“I remember that and I just want to pay it forward in some way.”
This year’s Times Colonist Christmas Fund campaign has received about $567,000 in donations. The fundraising goal is $1 million.
Cotton-Elliott said she was also inspired to make a donation to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund after reading Jack Knox’s column on Nourish Cowichan, a community-driven non-profit that tries to ensure no child goes through the school day on an empty stomach.
Every weekday, volunteers produce snacks, breakfasts and lunches that are sent out, for free, to 20 Cowichan Valley schools where staff have identified 1,253 students as being in danger of going hungry.
“I just found it so inspiring, I just felt I had to donate. It was such a thought-provoking article for me,” said Cotton-Elliott. “I know all the good work the Times Colonist does, so I just felt I had to support it in memory of them.”
It’s important for people to come together to help families in need if they are able to, especially with the rising cost of food, she said.
“It’s been a tough year. It’s being felt everywhere across the country.”
Cotton-Elliott will spend Christmas with Scott Elliott, her high school sweetheart and her husband of two years. On Boxing Day, she will fly to England for two weeks to be with her family.
“We have a new baby in the family,” she said with a smile. “That’s something to look forward to and I’m really looking forward to spending time with them.”
How to donate to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund
• Donate online. Go to timescolonist.com/donate, which will take you to our CanadaHelps page. It is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.
• Donate by mail. Send a cheque to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Road, Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5.
• Donate by phone. Use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.