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Memorial donations honour loved ones — and help the community

Memorial donations can be an outlet for grief and part of the healing process — or a way to say thank you, says Raisa Frenette, philanthropy co-ordinator at Victoria Hospice.
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Copper and silver-coloured metal leaves with names of loved ones who have died adorn a memorial tree in the garden of the Victoria Hospice. Via Victoria Hospice

Some Islanders grieving the loss of a loved one — or wanting to honour someone they have never met — are choosing to remember them with a donation to a charity, including the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, in their name.

“Grief is as unique as a fingerprint,” said Diane Scott, 71, who donates to Victoria Hospice and the Belfry Theatre in memory of her partner, Shelley, who passed away in 2019 from cancer. “For me, I think that donating in memory of a loved one gives you a feeling of connection to somebody who you cannot connect with anymore.”

The Times Colonist Christmas Fund recently received a $1,000 donation in honour of Kaydence Bourque, a 16-year-old who died after being hit by a vehicle at a Saanich crosswalk in early December. After Kaydence was pronounced dead, his body was kept alive long enough for his organs to be donated.

“As a parent and grandparent, I was gutted by his tragic death. It’s every parent and grandparents’ worst nightmare,” said the donor, who requested anonymity. “When I read of the family’s unbelievable gift of Kaydence’s organs, I was profoundly moved by the family’s strength and kindness during their period of unimaginable grief. Kindness is the human trait that I most admire. To do what they did and when is such an amazing tribute to them and to Kaydence. I wanted to acknowledge their immeasurable gift to the community and for them to know how inspiring they were to me and many others.”

Memorial donations can be an outlet for grief and part of the healing process — or a way to say thank you, said Raisa Frenette, philanthropy co-ordinator at Victoria Hospice.

“We have donors who support us because they want to give back for the care that their loved one received while in our care,” Frenette said. “Others choose to celebrate a loved one’s life by attaching a copper or steel memorial leaf — with the loved one’s name on it — on our memorial tree, which is located on our rooftop garden. When you get a nice breeze the chiming of the leaves is almost as if those who have departed are singing to their family and loved ones. There is a real sense of warmth and connection.”

Scott plans to continue giving even after her own passing, with a legacy gift bequeathing portions of her estate to various charities and non-profits. “It may sound corny, but it is a gift that keeps on giving.”

Donations to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund reached $726,365 on Tuesday.

Money raised by the fund is put to work throughout the community. Recipients this year include the Salvation Army, Mustard Seed Street Church, Our Place, the Victoria Women’s Transition House, Nourish Cowichan and the 1 UP Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre.

During the Christmas season last year, donations went to 20 organizations in Greater Victoria, the Gulf Islands and as far north as Campbell River.

The Times Colonist Christmas Fund dates back to 1956. It was first known as the 500 Fund because the goal was to raise money for 500 of the neediest families in the region. The name was changed to the 1000 Fund in 1980 and the Christmas Fund in 2000.

parrais@timescolonist

HOW TO DONATE

• You can donate by going to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund fundraising page at ­timescolonist.com/donate. The site is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.

• Or mail a cheque to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201‑655 Tyee Road, Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5.

• You can also use your credit card by calling 250-995-4438 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.