Good Neighbours: School-age kids need your help

As kids prepare to head back to school, the annual ritual of stocking up on school supplies can be a financial burden for some families. According to the 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre, the cost of essential supplies and a backpack can cost $70 or more for elementary school children and $100 or more for high school students. The costs add up for families with more than one child.

Three organizations are working to help, asking the community to donate money and school supplies.

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The Salvation Army’s Stan Hagen Centre for Families is running short of its goal with only two weeks left in its annual Backpack and School Supply campaign.

“Last year, we distributed approximately 250 backpacks. Currently, we only have supplies for 75,” said Sipili Molia, community relations co-ordinator for the centre.

While donations are down, the Salvation Army has seen an increase in families needing support. Last year, the organization distributed more than 5,000 backpacks with supplies worth over $10,000 across the province, including more than 1,000 on Vancouver Island.

Molia hopes the public can step up and donate between now and the end of the campaign on Sept. 11.

Items of greatest need include binders, loose-leaf paper, blank and lined notebooks, Scotch tape, scissors, fine-tip markers, glue sticks, white glue, scientific calculators, erasers, correction fluid and highlighters.

New school supplies or cash donations can be dropped off at 2695 Quadra St. For more information, go to salvationarmy.ca/britishcolumbia.

1Up Single Parent Resource Centre, which provides support for one-parent families across Greater Victoria, is also collecting school supplies for those in need. The centre’s Back to School Supply Drive aims to collect school items to fill more than 250 packs for children and teens from single-parent households.

The three Staples stores in Greater Victoria are accepting cash donations at the till on behalf of the organization. The campaign continues into September. For more information, go to singleparentvictoria.ca.

The Mustard Seed’s Fair Start program is in its 16th year. Started in 1998 by Linda Matthews and her late mother, Vera Webb, the program collects school supplies for children from low-income families. They handed out 460 school-supply hampers last week through the Mustard Seed Food Bank.

This year, the office was open for extended hours, making it easier for working parents to pick up supplies.

The campaign is over and donations of school supplies are no longer being accepted. However, donations for other programs can be made at the Mustard Seed, 625 Queens Ave.

For more information, go to mustardseed.ca.

Fashion Inferno raises thousands

Capital Iron and the Victoria Firefighters Charitable Foundation raised more than $15,000 at their recent Fashion Inferno — more than double the take at last year’s inaugural event. The light-hearted fashion show featured firefighters, professional models and store staff modelling a wide range of apparrel.

Along with the fashion show, the 300-plus attendees were treated to drinks and food catered by four chefs, as well as entertainment.

“The firefighters showed off a variety of clothing, but the audience really enjoyed it when they modelled the underwear,” said Mike Black, president of Capital Iron.

He said that the event may be the biggest outdoor fashion show in the city, with a runway made from covered cargo pallets and outdoor heaters and flame makers adding drama to the show.

Many people who attended are already calling to make sure they get on the list to be notified ahead of next year’s event.

Black is not surprised. “Who can feel bad about helping the firefighters foundation?”

For more information, go to victoriafirefighters.com.

Rotary celebrates centennial in capital

The Rotary Club of Victoria celebrates 100 years of community service today with the Rotary Centennial Cup, a polo match and high tea, with proceeds benefiting the Mustard Seed Food Bank. The polo match will showcase members of the Victoria Polo Club, who have donated their pitch for the event.

The game ball will be delivered by a skydiving team. Spectators will get a chance to get on the field for the traditional stomping of the divots, where the divots made by the horses are filled in by guests, who stomp the grass back into place.

“We hope that many people who haven’t been to a polo match before will join us to enjoy the pageantry of one of the oldest and fastest team sports in the world,” said Ali Edgell, event sponsor and organizer.

Tickets are $20 per person; free for children 10 and under. Parking is $5 per vehicle. There are also a limited number of $50 box seat tickets, with tea, dessert and parking included. People are encouraged to bring a chair and a picnic for the day.

The event runs 1 to 4 p.m. at the Victoria Polo Club, 7161 Wallace Dr. For more information, go to tinyurl.com/ketrjgb.

25 cyclists raise funds for hospice

A group of 25 cyclists helped raise $23,000 in support of hospice care by completing the two-day, 170-kilometre 2013 Cycle of Life Tour Aug. 10-11.

This was the third year of the event, which starts in Victoria, heads to Salt Spring Island via Crofton and then returns to the city through the Saanich Peninsula.

Each cyclist committed to raising at least $300 in pledges. But 20 of the group earned well over the minimum, including two riders raising more than $3,000 in pledges.

“It says so much about the calibre of individuals we had riding with the Tour this year — generous, dedicated, people,” said Graham Robertson, Cycle of Life Tour founder. “It’s amazing.” 

Funds raised go toward hospices in Victoria, the Cowichan Valley, Salt Spring Island and Sooke. Since its inception in 2011, the event has raised over $50,000. For more information, go to cycleoflifetour.ca.

Dog event aids championship plans

Dog-lovers can learn more about Schutzhund, a sport developed initially as a breed-suitability test for German shepherds, at a day-long demonstration today. In Schutzhund, dogs and their handlers are judged on tracking, obedience and protection. It also forms the core for police-dog training.

Today’s event is a fundraiser to help send Aaron Almeida and his dog, Crush, to the World Championship of Schutzhund in Philadelphia in October as part of Team Canada. The national team consists of five dogs, five handlers and one alternate team. Almeida, a trainer who has assisted with the canine units of both Victoria and Saanich police departments, and his dog are the alternate team.

At today’s event, Almeida will hold an obedience workshop to show people how the dogs are trained.

Dogs and their handlers from both police departments will be on hand to demonstrate aspects of the training techniques.

Admission is by donation. Please leave pets at home. The event runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Victoria Rottweiler Club, 9865 West Saanich Rd., Sidney (beside the Institute of Ocean Sciences).

For more information, contact Almeida at aaronalmeida@me.com. To learn more about the sport, go to gsscc.ca.

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