Andrew Beckerman is back as a Times Colonist Christmas Fund donor, something he says is an important part of the season for him.
“I do this because I can and I think we feel as Canadians that everybody should live reasonably well. We’re obviously not at that point,” said the retired architect. “As an immigrant from the United States, I feel that my contributions resonate more with kind of the bedrock of what Canadian society is.
“And I think that occasions like Christmas, where everybody is celebrating, it’s kind of hard if you’re not in any way part of this celebratory season — whether we think it’s good, bad or indifferent to be buying stuff or going out for extra meals and this or that.”
It’s a time when people can easily feel left out, Beckerman said.
“As winter arrives and the shortest day of the year, the lack of sun, I think it’s a time when people are particularly vulnerable.”
That’s where the Times Colonist Christmas Fund comes in, he said.
Since 1956, this newspaper has collected money to benefit the less fortunate. Last year we raised and distributed about $308,000, and we hope to beat that total this year.
“I feel that by giving to the fund we can make a bit of Christmas for, if not everybody, at least as many people as possible,” Beckerman said.
Giving “is a way to equalize how our community lives,” he said. “I think the Christmas Fund is just a great annual appeal to create good tidings for everybody in our community.”
Beckerman prefers to give to the Christmas Fund and many other charities with matched challenges — pledging a sum of money that kicks in when others match it.
He has donated to the fund that way for the past three years.
“Last year we did four $500 matched challenges,” he said. “This year we’re doing five.”
The matched challenges for the fund have gone better and better over time, said Beckerman. Watch the Times Colonist Christmas Fund donor list for his challenge.
“The first year it took about two weeks to do two challenges,” he said. “The second year it took about a week to do three challenges.
“Last year it literally took two days.”
He said such challenges seem to be more common now in Canada than when he arrived from the United States 14 years ago.
“It always seems to work,” he said. “Matching seems to draw people’s attention, which is great.”
Beckerman’s efforts earned him the Generosity of Spirit Award at Victoria’s National Philanthropy Day event last year. Among the many groups he supports is the Victoria Cool Aid Society and he also volunteers with AIDS Vancouver Island.
In 2017, he pledged his $750,000 art collection to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
HOW TO DONATE
• Go to timescolonist.com/donate. That takes you to the Canada Helps website, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.
• Mail a cheque, payable to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund Society, to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 2621 Douglas St., Victoria V8T 4M2.
• Use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Outside those hours, leave a message, we’ll call back.