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Our Community: $400,000 for vulnerable up-Island; Islamic Relief care kits for homeless

More than $407,000 has been allocated to help ­vulnerable individuals and families living in central and north ­Vancouver Island who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HeroWork Society founder and CEO Paul Latour with the Power To Be log campfire building when it was under construction at Prospect Lake in 2017. The society was recognized by a Canadian social impact publication as one of Canada’s top 100 Community Recovery Projects. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

More than $407,000 has been allocated to help ­vulnerable individuals and families living in central and north ­Vancouver Island who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds include $380,600 from the federal ­government’s Emergency Community Support Fund and $29,375 from corporate donors to the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island.

A total of 57 local organizations have been approved to receive funding to support vulnerable people in the region.

The money will enable local charities to adapt their front-line services to help those at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic and support those experiencing homelessness.

“We are proud to work in partnership with the federal government and help our local partner organizations carry out their vital work providing emergency support to individuals and communities experiencing continued or heightened vulnerability,” said Signy Madden, executive director of United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island.

This is the second round of funding from the federal government. The initial Emergency Community Support Fund, worth $350 million, was rolled out in April and disbursed among 80 agencies.

• For more information, or to donate, go to

Life-giving platelets in short supply; how you can help

If you’re in a giving mood, consider giving the gift of life by donating blood this holiday season to the Canadian Blood ­Services. The agency says the platelet inventory is at risk this year due to lost collection opportunities because of the timing of statutory holidays.

Donated blood lasts only 42 days, but platelets — commonly used to treat cancer patients — only last a week.

Because blood is considered an essential product and service, donors are allowed to leave home to give blood throughout the pandemic, even during a lockdown.

Donor centres will be open on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, in addition to regularly scheduled operating hours.

To ensure physical distancing measures, appointments are required.

“We’re grateful to donors and front-line workers who have helped maintain an adequate level of blood products for patients since the onset of the pandemic, but the demand for blood never stops, even over the holidays,” said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations.

If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may also be able to help by donating plasma.

Canadian Blood Services is part of national clinical trials testing if the antibodies circulating in recent COVID-19 survivors’ plasma (called convalescent plasma) is an effective treatment option for patients with COVID-19.

• To book an appointment, download the GiveBlood app, call 1-888-2DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or go to

Islamic Relief care kits going to homeless in Share the Warmth drive

Islamic Relief Canada plans to distribute winter care kits today in a number of communities, including Victoria, as part of its national Share the Warmth campaign for the homeless.

The kits, which include hygiene and personal protection equipment, will be distributed among organizations that work with the homeless and vulnerable in Victoria, Surrey, Abbotsford and Vancouver.

“Homelessness is a growing problem across B.C., and we expect the pandemic will only exacerbate it,” said Hassaan Ghani Sheikh, who leads Islamic Relief’s Surrey team. “That’s why we have expanded to include more cities in British Columbia this year in addition to Vancouver.”

The kits will include items such as gloves, sweaters, socks and scarves, in addition to hygiene products such as toothpaste, soap and lotion.

This year, PPE items such as face shields and hand sanitizer, as well as raincoats and umbrellas, will be added to some kits.

The Iman Mosque in Victoria will hand out 75 kits.

Islamic Relief Canada is a registered charity and a Muslim non-governmental organization that works in more than 30 countries to provide humanitarian relief.

• For more information, go to

For fourth year, plumbing firm offering help to families in need

A local plumbing company is offering free plumbing for some families in need.

This is the fourth year that Rather Be Plumbing will donate the cost of labour to fix plumbing problems for free — all they ask is that customers pick up the cost of any materials used.

Company owner Jarod Hughes said it’s a way of ­giving back to the community.

For three days this week — Monday to Wednesday — three or four of his employees will answer up to six requests a day to fix plumbing-related problems. Employees still get paid for their time — the company absorbs the cost of their labour.

Hughes said the majority of people who take ­advantage of the offer are those who find it hard to make ends meet, especially at this time of the year. Callers might be unemployed, living on fixed incomes or disabled.

The plumbers will practise all safety-related ­protocols on site.

For the first time this year, the company is also accepting donations toward a charity that supports mental health.

• For more information, or to book, call (or text) 250-589-8555 or go to

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