For the past 19 years, the Mustard Seed has made the holiday season brighter for Tanya Dawson and her family.
Dawson’s long standing connection with the Mustard Seed serves to lessen anxiety about her children — ages 15, 12, 10 and 5 — being happy on Christmas morning.
“The Mustard Seed is like my extended family,” said Dawson, 35. Over the years, pre-pandemic, the family has regularly attended Mustard Seed dinners and made friends.
Her partner is the primary wage earner in the family. With only one income she manages to stretch out the family’s monthly food budget by accepting hampers of food from the Mustard Seed’s food bank.
The facility, at 625 Queens Ave., distributes food from the parking lot, Monday to Friday.
“Getting help with the food bill definitely helps,” said Dawson. “It enables us to keep our heads above water until the next paycheque.”
She said that although she is a stay-at-home-mom now, she plans to return to the workplace as soon as the children are older.
Over the years she has enrolled in a number of small group workshops for parents offered by the Mustard Seed. The programs include courses on parenting skills, learning how to budget and improving cooking skills.
Other courses she has pursued include ones that improve her employability, such as first-aid training to bolster her resume.
Christmas is always a special time of the year for the family. She has registered for a family Christmas hamper, which, along with food, include gifts for all children 17 and younger.
“They are very generous. There is usually one big gift, sometimes two smaller ones and loads of stocking stuffers for the kids,” she said.
She is grateful for donations to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, which supports the Mustard Seed. The support serves to make the holiday season shine just a little brighter for her and and her extended community.
HOW TO DONATE
The best way to donate directly is to go to timescolonist.com/donate. That will take you to the Canada Helps website, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.
Or mail a cheque, payable to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund Society, to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Road, Victoria V9A 6X5.
Or use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, messages will be accepted.