Thanks to our readers, this year’s Times Colonist Christmas Fund campaign has reached $118,403 — more than was raised by this date last year.
That is good news, because the need is greater than it was last Christmas.
Our goal is to raise $1 million. That money will be used not only to brighten the holidays for the neediest among us, but to provide financial support for community organizations on Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands that strive to ensure no one is left behind. This year, that means ensuring no one goes hungry.
Given what has happened with food prices recently, food security has become a priority. At this time of the year, it’s important that stomachs are not empty — and that is not just because of Christmas spirit.
It’s said that cold weather feels even colder for people who are hungry. But then, just about everything is worse when your first concern is your next meal.
And that is why our primary focus this year is on food, whether that be directly in the form of Christmas hampers for individuals and families, or indirectly through assistance to the volunteer-driven non-profits that feed them. That’s in addition to making sure children have gifts under the tree, and that families have access to the other supports that make life a bit more enjoyable this season.
The commitment to help the less fortunate helped spark the creation of the Christmas Fund in 1956. Back then, it was called the 500 Fund, with 500 referring to the number of families the good people at the Daily Colonist were hoping to help. Then, as the need increased, it became the 1000 Fund. Then, as even that number was eclipsed, Christmas Fund was adopted.
In recent years the fund’s purpose has evolved beyond the name change. At one time, our focus was confined to giving direct aid to individuals and families in Greater Victoria, usually ones identified by the Salvation Army and Mustard Seed Street Church. Now, we have expanded that mission, working with a wider variety of organizations throughout our coverage area, ones well-positioned to identify and respond to those in need, whether they be struggling refugees or single parents trying to feed their children while clawing their way back into the workforce.
To do that, we need your help. We accept donations throughout the year but launch our festive season campaign every November.
When you give money, you can get a tax receipt and your name in the newspaper — but frankly, neither of those things are as important as the joy that comes with helping those in need.
That’s what the Christmas season is all about.
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. It 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.
However 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.