Dave Obee: Thanks and thanks again. Christmas Fund drive breaks records

Christmas FundThank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. There has never been a Times Colonist Christmas Fund drive like the one just ended — and that is significant, because we have been raising money every year since 1956.

We collected more than ever before — $357,125.26, to be precise, thanks to 1,845 individual donations. That money has been put to good use, helping people in need throughout our community.

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The fund’s success over the past couple of months cannot be told in a single story, because that success came through 1,845 individual stories, 1,845 reasons to give, 1,845 reasons to help others, 1,845 donations that prove we are surrounded by inspiring, wonderful people.

“I want homeless people to have money so they can eat warm food and have clothes,” said six-year-old Serena Locke as she handed over $5 for the fund.

The donations ranged in size from $5 (there were three at that amount) to $15,000 (thanks, Jeanne and Jason Gordon of Vancouver).

Andrew Beckerman made five $500 donation challenges. Next year, he says, he will do six.

A prisoner at the Wilkinson Road jail donated $7. A staff bake sale at the Times Colonist contributed $500. The wonderful Tuba Christmas event accounted for $4,350.

There were 178 donations in memory of people who are no longer with us, including tributes for Chloe and Aubrey Berry, who were murdered on Christmas Day 2017.

Ian Miller was back with another donation in memory of his friend and former co-worker Courtney Walls, who died after being stabbed on Douglas Street in 1997.

Those donations carry a strong message. Even in darkness, there is hope — hope for others, hope that we can bring a brighter Christmas to the less fortunate in Greater Victoria. That’s what the Christmas Fund is all about.

The fund’s long tradition began 63 years ago, when the Daily Colonist announced that it wanted to help 500 needy families, and set up the 500 Fund to do just that. The fund has grown through the years, but sadly, so has the need.

The Christmas Fund helps to provide hampers for those who are less fortunate. Again this season, we worked directly with the Salvation Army and the Mustard Seed Street Church, providing resources so they could increase their capacities and help more people. We provided support for Christmas activities at Our Place.

The Christmas Fund also sponsored the Mustard Seed’s annual Christmas dinner, which gave hundreds of people a warm meal. The dinner reminds us what the Christmas season is all about.

For many of our readers, the Times Colonist Christmas Fund is as much a tradition of the season as a tree, a turkey or pudding. A gift to the fund embodies the spirit of Christmas, since it is a chance to help strangers, for no personal gain. A gift to a stranger is often the best gift that we can give.

This is our fund, and it is your fund. It belongs to the community; we just provide the vehicle to help you help others.

Good things happen when people work together. So again, thank you, on behalf of all of us, and on behalf of all of your neighbours.

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