There is a quick way to understand why the Times Colonist sponsors the Christmas Fund every year — a quick way to see how important it is to help those who are less fortunate.
Visit a food bank. Better yet, volunteer at one for a few hours, maybe commit to being there for the long-term.
And talk to the people who are in need.
They are people just like you and me. For whatever reason, they have fallen on hard times and need a helping hand to get on their feet again.
The Times Colonist Christmas Fund was set up to help those people. Today, we could be helping the grandchildren of people we helped when we started this work in 1956.
This year’s campaign reached $410,619 on Friday, with that money coming from 1,530 donors. We are on our way to reaching our goal of $1 million, but we are still looking for your support.
The money is being put to work as quickly as possible.
For example, the Christmas Fund is picking up the tab for the annual Christmas feast the Mustard Seed Street Church is hosting at the Bay Street armoury today with the help of several other community-minded organizations.
In the past couple of weeks, we have handed $652,000 to a couple of dozen groups that provide food security and other services. We look for the people who are the most efficient with what they receive, the ones who know where to turn for even more help, the ones who could, it seems, take a loaf of bread and turn it into a fine turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
Bev Elder, who runs the Saanich Peninsula Lions Club Food Bank in Sidney, is one of those people. The Times Colonist Christmas Fund gives financial support to that food bank, which also takes other donations, including food, and distributes everything with the help of volunteers.
There are dozens of people like Bev Elder in every community on Vancouver Island — people who have devoted countless hours to helping others. They are helping to provide food and other essentials to people in your neighbourhood. The TC Christmas Fund is committed to supporting this work throughout the Island.
So, what is an essential? What items are in high demand, or bring the most benefit to people in need?
Elder has prepared a list of the top items: cereal, canned tomatoes, toothbrushes, school snacks, juice, canned fruit, pasta sauce, cake/muffin mix, shampoo/body wash, instant mashed potatoes, hamburger helper, canned meat and pancake mix.
No real surprises here, but the list helps to show how it’s possible to provide a lot of help by stretching dollars.
In past years, we have noted that many people are only three paycheques away from needing the services of a food bank. Elder said that with today’s economy and the high cost of food, many people might need a food bank if they miss just one paycheque. That’s why it’s important that we continue our efforts to help those in need — and why we continue to ask for your support.
Our pledge is that we will put your money to the best use possible, and that the Times Colonist will cover most of the administration costs involved with the fund.
Most of the money will go to food, but your donations also go to Christmas gifts for children and others who could use some light in their lives.
So, how can you give to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund?
• Donate online. Go to timescolonist.com/donate, which will take you to our CanadaHelps page. The site 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.
No matter how you donate, you will be making Christmas feel a bit warmer for your neighbours who are going through bad times.
Dave Obee is editor and publisher of the Times Colonist.