People donate to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund for a variety of reasons, but at the core they all give from their heart to help those in need at this time of the year.
When Judy Wong lost her wallet in downtown Victoria, friends advised her that “it was as good as gone.” What happened next restored her faith in human kindness.
Wong, who was visiting from Edmonton, was in town for a company event. A group of her work colleagues went out for dinner and a few drinks. Sometime during the evening she parted ways with her wallet.
Because it contained her driver’s licence — and her only piece of identification — she could not board her scheduled WestJet flight home. Without her identification or credit card, she couldn’t rent a car to drive home either. She was stuck here.
“I had a scanned copy of my driver’s licence but the airline said that they would only accept an original,” said Wong. “I had to ask my family to grab my passport from home and then courier it to me.”
A few days later, while waiting for the passport to arrive at her hotel, she got a call from the Sidney branch of CIBC, informing her that they had her wallet.
A postal clerk had dropped it off at the bank, after noticing a CIBC debit card in the wallet. The postal clerk told the receptionist at the bank that the wallet was found loose in a mail box. How it ended up in Sidney instead of downtown Victoria is a mystery.
“I was speechless when she told me that story,” said Wong in a telephone call from Edmonton.
The receptionist at the bank had accessed her contact information from her debit card to call an “extremely relieved” Wong to pick up her wallet and finally return home.
She said the episode reminded her that there are still honest people in the community, restoring her faith in human kindness.
“I was thankful, but I didn’t know who to thank,” she said.
With nobody to show her appreciation to personally, she decided — with a little help of a local friend — that the best way to show her gratitude was to pay it forward, with a $100 donation to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund as a gesture of thanks to the community as a whole.
Don Hauser doesn’t usually busk, but once a year he takes his trusty Casio digital horn to a Sidney shopping centre to elicit donations for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund.
This year his performance of Christmas music netted $138.40.
“I have fun doing this,” said Hauser, a former Times Colonist employee who worked in the composition department of the paper until he retired 17 years ago. “I tried to get others to join me playing this year, but solo works fine.”
He said that he picked a spot between the liquor store and drug store, placed a hand-made sign to inform people all the money was to go to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, and played for about two hours.
His digital instrument allows him to pre-record a harmony line to go along with him playing the main melody.
He said that success at busking comes down to location, and the spot he chose had seating, allowing people to pause and listen to his performance. “It gives them time to go digging into their wallets and purses,” said Hauser, 78. “I had an elderly lady dig and give me $20, my best of the day.”
A resident of Central Saanich, he plans to return and repeat his performance next year.
“I’ll be back.”
Marilyn O’Neill made two donations of $500 to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, including one in memory of a good friend.
Asked way she chose to donate to the fund she said:
“I read the newspaper every day. I am well aware of what’s going on, with lots of people starving and hurting,” said O’Neill, who lives in Saanich.
She said that the fund “made it a lot easier” to ensure that her money went to people who needed it most.
One donation was made in honour of her friend, Pat Hall, who died in September. Hall, a member of the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame, is a legendary figure in Vancouver Island field hockey and softball circles.
“She just loved Christmas. I feel for her two daughters,” said O’Neill, who was born in Winnipeg but has lived in the region for a number of years.
DONATIONS MADE FRIDAY GET 1% BOOST
Today would be a great day to donate online, because CanadaHelps is offering a one per cent boost on donations made through tcchristmasfund.com before midnight.
Our fund uses the CanadaHelps portal, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt. The terms and conditions of the offer can be read on the CanadaHelps website.
Online donations will also be accepted on Saturday and Sunday, which is the last day for donations to qualify for a 2023 tax receipt.
You could also call 250-995-4438 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and donate using a credit card. Telephone donations made after Dec. 29, however, will count for the 2024 tax year.
Want to send a cheque? Please mail it to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5, but make sure it is postmarked before Sunday for a 2023 tax-year receipt. Donations after that will be for the 2024 tax year.