Our Community: Art fundraiser to aid Syrian family

Victoria artists have come together for Home is Where the Art Is, a fundraiser to help three generations of a family from Syria make a home in Canada, Thursday at the Interurban campus of Camosun College.

More than 75 artists have donated 100 pieces of art for a unique art draw. Pieces include watercolour, acrylic and oil painting, sculpture, etching and photography. Styles range from still life and abstract to landscapes and First Nations pieces.

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Each ticket earns one draw ticket for an art piece. When the ticket holder’s name is drawn, the holder then chooses from the many pieces on display.

Proceeds from the event will go to Mohanned Ghadban and his wife Hiba Smadi, who arrived from Syria via Jordan last year. They were followed by Mohanned’s parents, sister and three nieces and a nephew in July.

The couple welcomed their first child in September.

The family was able to come to Canada through a private sponsorship organized by 10 individuals who have assisted the family in settling into their new home.

“They have come to Canada and they have had to start from scratch. They need winter clothes, they need to completely furnish a house, they need to figure out how the system works, things we take for granted,” said Gregg Eligh, the event organizer. “The funds raised will help them with day-to-day living essentials, rent, food, furnishings and transportation. Everything goes to helping them create a home in Victoria. They are really moved by how generous the art community has been. It has made them feel even more welcome.”

It is perhaps fitting that a number of the artists who have contributed work were themselves immigrants or refugees, giving them insight into not only the challenges of resettling in a foreign country, but also the rewards of becoming part of a new community.

At the event attendees can enjoy music, light appetizers and a cash bar.

Funds are managed by the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia.

Tickets are $150 (only 100 are available), with each ticket-holder allowed to bring one guest. The event runs 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20. Viewing is from 6 to 7, with the random draws taking place until 9 p.m. The event will be held at the Interurban campus of Camosun College, 4461 Interurban Rd. Tickets are available by emailing Gregg Eligh at gregg@elighphoto.com. Find more information here.

Students can win a trip to Ottawa

Grade 11 and 12 students in the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford federal electoral district can win a trip to Ottawa by submitting their ideas on how to make Canada a better place in the Create Your Canada contest.

Organized by MP Alistair MacGregor, the contest will give the winning student(s) the opportunity to watch MacGregor present their idea to the House of Commons as a private member’s bill.

“I am very excited to give students in my riding the opportunity to learn about and participate in the legislative process firsthand,” said MacGregor. “The young people of this country are our future, and I want to encourage them to get involved and think about how we can create a better Canada.”

Students can enter individually, or in groups of two.

The deadline for submissions is March 31. More information, including submission forms, can be found online.

100 Men working for a better community

There is still time to join 100 Men Victoria at their next meeting.

The group of about 100 men get together once a quarter. Each person pledges to donate $100.

At the meeting, which only lasts one hour, they debate and vote on a local charity that will receive the accumulated funds, which can total up to $10,000. (They also take time to share stories over a beer and some food)

They are beginning their second year and hoping to expand beyond 100 men — the more people who show up enables the group to have an even greater impact on the local community.

If you want to see what’s it all about, attend their next meeting. Registration starts at 5 p.m. and voting runs from 6 to 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at Max Furniture, 3460 Quadra St. (at Cloverdale).

For more information, go to 100menvictoria.org.

Coldest Night walk raises funds for Mustard Seed 

Teams have already raised more than $23,700 for the Mustard Seed ahead of the annual Coldest Night of the Year walk on Saturday.

More than 225 walkers in 61 teams are set to walk to raise funds and raise awareness for homelessness in the region.

“It has been a fantastic response so far,” said Grant McKenzie, communications director at Our Place. “We are well on our way to hitting our goal of 500 walkers raising $75,000.”

This year, Our Place has partnered with the Pacific Centre Family Services Association in the West Shore to host the walk from the Langford Fire Hall.

“It’s double the fun,” said McKenzie. “People can choose to join us in downtown Victoria or pop over to the Fire Hall and walk with our supporters there.”

The family-friendly walks will raise much-needed funds as well as offering people an opportunity to connect with the homeless community they’ve come to support.

“On the coldest nights, we try to get as many people indoors as possible,” said McKenzie. “But, unfortunately, there are still people left outside. This walk allows the community to come together and show how much they care about the most vulnerable members of our communities.

You can choose from a two-, five- or 10-kilometre route. Registration begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at both Our Place, 919 Pandora Ave. and the Langford Fire Hall, 2625 Peatt Rd., with the walk starting at 5 p.m.

A special post-walk meal, sponsored by Whole Foods in Victoria and Artisan Kitchen and Smokehouse in Langford, will be served from 6 to 8 p.m. Starbucks and Coke will be handing out hot and cold beverages to participants.

Other sponsors include the Vancouver Island Vegan Assn., Aon Reed Stenhouse, Coast Capital Savings, CHEK TV, the Times Colonist, Used Victoria, Auxilium Mortgage Corporation, Worklink Employment Society, Coast Community Credit Union and the Westshore Town Centre.

• The Mustard Seed will also be holding a Coldest Night of the Year walk.

This is the seventh year of the national event, which raises money for food banks and shelters while bringing awareness to homelessness and poverty.

Enjoy music, treats and hot chocolate in our parking lot just before the walk.

At the end of the walk, you can stay to enjoy chili and live music with The Doctor Bones Blues Project and members of the street community.

The event is free to join. Meet at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Mustard Seed, 625 Queens Ave.

For more information, go to mustardseed.ca.

Volunteers, Rotarians pitch in for Disaster Aid

Victorians responded to a call to action at Disaster Aid Canada to help to make hundreds of bed packs for refugees in Jordan.

The charity had sent out a newsletter asking for help in January — and they were overwhelmed by the response they received.

They received emails, texts, and calls to offer to help. In 10 days, they had almost 280 people arriving at the warehouse to volunteer. Some were given the task of sorting, folding and packing linens. Others began sorting, squeezing, filling, washing and packing hygiene amenities.

Businesses donated supplies, while others sent funds to help purchase necessary items.

A hockey team came to unload supplies, and Diamond Delivery sent a truck to transport the supplies.

Members of numerous Rotary Clubs also pitched in to help.

Not only were supplies sent to the refugees in Jordan, but there was enough to send to the Halalt First Nations to help 220 people flooded out of their homes in last month’s deluge.

Disaster Aid Canada’s mission is to provide and assist in delivering humanitarian aid, shelter, sustainable water systems and hygiene products to people affected by natural and other disasters. It is an official collaborative organization of Rotary International and sponsored by Rotary Club Ladysmith.

For more information, go to disasteraid.ca.

Library’s book sale this weekend

Stock up on romance, mysteries, sci-fi, self-help, home-improvement and crafts books as the Friends of the Library hold their annual book sale, Saturday and Sunday at the Nellie McClung Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Volunteers have been busy sorting and displaying more than 10,000 books, DVDs and CDs for the two-day sale. There will be fiction, non-fiction, children, teen and collectible books — all at bargain prices.

Proceeds from the sale support library outreach programs and projects. Funds also go toward the Summer Reading Club, to help more than 9,000 children in the region keep up their reading skills during the holidays.

It supports the Indigenous Reads collection in every branch, featuring books by and about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

Money raised will fund the digital lab facility, slated for the new Esquimalt branch. The lab will have scanners to let people convert their documents, photos, old home movies, recordings, etc. to digital formats for preservation and sharing.

The event runs 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, with early bird admission at $3. On Sunday, the event is free to enter from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is then $10 admission — with books free — from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. at the Nellie McClung Branch, 3950 Cedar Hill Rd.

For more information, go to gvplfriends.ca.

Don’t forget: You need to recycle those batteries

Just ahead of National Battery Day on Tuesday, Canadians got a report card on how they are doing.

Call2Recycle Canada, Canada’s national consumer battery collection and recycling organization, just released its 2019 collection numbers.

They found that Canadians recycled a record number of batteries last year, returning almost three million kilograms — the equivalent of 500 elephants.

Of that, British Columbians recycled 720,000 kilograms of batteries, an increase of 14 per cent over 2018.

But we can still do better.

While the organization found that 85 per cent of British Columbians are aware that batteries need to be recycled, only 73 per cent are actually recycling their old batteries.

National Battery Day is a great reminder of how important battery recycling is.

Call2Recycle Canada continues to encourage people to “turn used into useful” by recycling their old batteries at a drop-off location near them.

The company has been operating a recycling program for more than 20 years. They have worked with various companies and municipalities to do the right thing for the environment.

For more information or to find a drop-off location, go to call2recycle.ca/nationalbatteryday.

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