Our Community: 10,000 pairs of socks distributed; help for pet owners

Cool Aid, in partnership with Congregation Emanu-El and PVH Legwear Canada — makers of McGregor Socks — has distributed 10,000 pairs of ­winter socks to 20 local organizations serving people experiencing poverty.

The socks were given away at a Cool Aid medical clinic at the newly named Muncey Place (formerly the Comfort Inn) on Thursday.

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“I started this program when I learned of the ­importance of a good pair of warm and dry socks at this time of year,” said sock campaign volunteer Michael Bloomfield.

“Its success is a tribute to the generosity of donors that share our commitment to helping people in need in our community. It’s a heartwarming story about caring for each other.”

Corporate donors include Kia Victoria, La-Z-Boy Furniture, Nesbitt Burns, Waddell Raponi and Hutcheson & Company.

Since 2007, the project has brought 112,500 pairs of socks, worth $562,500, to be distributed during cold and wet weather months. The socks will be ­distributed throughout Greater Victoria, Salt Spring Island, ­Duncan and Nanaimo.

“Dry, clean socks are the best chance we have at reducing infections, nail diseases and frostbite over the coming months,” said nurse Brooke Bianci.

“This generous donation will help ensure healthy feet for the folks at Muncey Place.”

The public can also contribute to the $10,000 campaign.

Twenty-five pairs of socks costs $25 and ­contributions can be made year-round at coolaid.org/socks or 250-383-1977.

Helping pet owners

The B.C. SPCA in Victoria is partnering with the Cool Aid Society to expand its pet food bank outreach program to help people who may need support in caring for their animals.

“We have all gone through challenging times with the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has had a financial impact on many families,” says Annie Prittie Bell, manager of the B.C. SPCA in Victoria. “The B.C. SPCA in Victoria was very fortunate to already have strong relationships with community agencies, like the Victoria-based Cool Aid Society, and this allowed us to seamlessly expand our outreach support for pet guardians and help vulnerable animals when the pandemic hit.”

The Victoria branch delivers hampers every two weeks to the Cool Aid Society, which distributes items to pet owners in need.

Alan Rycroft, Cool Aid Society’s community relations manager, says the benefits of the pet-food donations are two-fold. “They end up not just helping the animals have a more stable and consistent diet, but also greatly reduce the stress on pet owners, who frequently have to spend money they don’t have to ensure their animals have the best life possible.”

The drop-in food bank services run 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays at the B.C. SPCA, 3150 Napier Lane. For more information, go to spca.bc.ca.

Poinsettias for hospital fundraising campaign

The deadline to order a poinsettia from the Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary Poinsettias for Patients campaign is Monday.

The plants are 91 centimetres tall (36 inches) and typically last months.

This year, proceeds from the sale will go towards improving the ambulatory family lab at Victoria General Hospital, which is almost 40 years old.

The auxiliary is also planning to install a professional mural as well as virtual reality games in the lab, in hopes of calming and distracting children who have to take tests.

The auxiliary is a charity that fund-raises for the hospital, with a gift shop in the hospital’s concourse.

Plants can be purchased in the store or online at shop.vgha.ca. For more information, email info@vgha.ca, or call Val Smith at 250-598-3385. Pick-up or delivery is at the end of November.

Virtual concert from Sooke Philharmonic

The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra has released Ode to Autumn, a new virtual concert featuring four small ensembles, on its website for all to enjoy.

The repertoire includes Serenade for Strings and Elegy, Op. 58 — Elgar, Irish Melody — Frank Bridge, English Folk Song Suite and Charterhouse Suite — Vaughan Williams and Trois Pièces for Woodwind Quartet — Eugene Bozza.

“Physically distanced playing challenges our musicians in new ways. We have to listen more carefully, pay more attention, feel the music together,” said Yariv Aloni, the orchestra’s conductor. “Our ensembles have risen to the challenge and advanced their playing.”

The autumn concert was recorded live at Sooke’s Holy Trinity Church. The concert is the orchestra’s second virtual release. The first was the inaugural performance of the Voces Intimae string quartet in early October.

Audiences can enjoy the the videos for free, but are encouraged to make a donation to the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra. Contributions over $25 will receive a tax receipt.

They can be viewed at sookephil.ca.

More housing units approved

The City of Victoria has approved two projects that will result in an increase of 72 new housing units for low-income and vulnerable residents.

The units will be built at two properties, 330 Michigan St. in James Bay and 736 Princess St. in the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood.

The affordable housing development on Princess Avenue will be owned and operated by the Victoria branch of the John Howard Society. The units in the development will remain rental and affordable at very-low-income levels for at least 60 years.

“This project is more than simply supportive housing. It brings job readiness and life skills training, counselling and supportive housing under one roof to enable clients to become contributing members to their community,” said Manj Toor, executive director of the John Howard Society. “Our approach speaks to the principle that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

Innovations and amenities planned include a ground-floor coffee shop and art gallery that will operate as a social enterprise and provide an opportunity for the society to implement an employment-readiness program and allow local artists to showcase and sell their art.

Approximately 46 per cent of the total floor area will be dedicated to commercial and community services.

The John Howard Society strives to build safe and inclusive communities by helping vulnerable people achieve greater independence so that they can change their lives.

The current affordable housing complex on Michigan Street consists of four multi-family residential buildings. The property is owned and operated by the Capital Regional Housing Corporation.

The heritage building on site will be retained, but three old buildings will be demolished to make way for two four-storey multi-family buildings for a total of 106 units, a net increase of 44.

All units in both the new and existing buildings will remain affordable for Victoria’s lower-income earners.

The City of Victoria’s housing strategy includes several policies to address housing and affordability in the community. For more information, go to victoria.ca.

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