Our Community: City of Victoria seeks musicians for next summer

The City of Victoria is inviting musicians and community programmers to submit applications to play at outdoor concerts and activities in 2019.

Each summer, the city puts on free outdoor concerts and activities at Centennial Square and Beacon Hill Park.

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It is updating its rosters of pre-qualified performers and programmers for these venues from June to September, as well as at other events throughout the year.

Musician submissions will be assessed on broad appeal, technical expertise and talent, and will be reviewed by a team of city staff and music professionals.

Community programmers will be assessed on the quality and creativity of the activity proposed, and the applicant’s track record in delivering similar, successful programs to the community.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. However, the selection process takes place once a year. To be considered for these rosters, applicants need to apply and provide links to samples of their work by midnight on Sunday, Jan. 20. Preference will be given to those based in the capital region. Selected applicants will be contacted in early March.

For more information and to apply, go to victoria.ca/artsandculture.

Gift-wrapping service helps United Way

The United Way of Greater Victoria is just over halfway to this year’s fundraising goal of $5 million.

To get closer to the goal, volunteers are offering Mindful Gift Wrapping (presents wrapped in red paper with a white ribbon) in partnership with the Bay Centre, starting Monday.

You can get your presents wrapped knowing that your gift will keep on giving.

Local radio and TV personalities are pitching in.

Celebrity gift wrappers include: 100.3 The Q’s Lauren Duggan and Heather Backman, Ocean 98.5’s Susan Knight and Fun Finder Corey, Robin and AJ, KISS 103.1’s Dez and Jay, and CHEK News’ Stacy Ross and Tess van Straaten. They will help with wrapping between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at various dates between Dec. 12 and 20.

Your generosity and support will help fund programs, including: Programs to help kids be all they can be, programs that build pathways out of poverty for individuals, programs that build strong communities and bc211 — a free, confidential phone, text and online service that connects Vancouver Islanders to community, government and social services.

The gift wrapping takes place 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday from Dec. 10 to 24 on level 3 at Bay Centre downtown, 1150 Douglas St. For more information, go to uwgv.ca.

Student’s toy drive returns

A student at Oak Bay High School who hopes to collect 1,000 new and gently used toys for families in need is holding a community toy drive Dec. 15 and 16 outside the Oak Bay Avenue Pharmasave.

This is the fifth year Leah Smith has organized the event, with collected toys destined for families served by the Stan Hagen Centre for Families.

She will accept toys between noon and 4 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16 outside the pharmacy, 2200 Oak Bay Ave.

For more information, email her at leahstoydrive@gmail.com.

For more information on the Stan Hagen Centre for Families, go to bit.ly/2E96QPi.

Bring food donations to menorah lighting

Avodah, the Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue’s social-action group, is asking people to bring eight food items for the menorah lighting ceremony in Centennial Square today.

The group’s initiative is called 8 for 8. Attendees are invited to bring eight non-perishable food items — one for each night of Hanukkah.

The collected food items will be donated to the Emergency Food Service at St. John the Divine Church.

The lighting of the menorah takes place at 5 p.m. tonight in Centennial Square. Donations can also be dropped off at the synagogue during office hours.

For more information, go to congregationemanuel.ca.

WIN takes donations for bursary

The Victoria Women in Need Community Co-operative has launched its annual Community Cheer Campaign to help fund the Self-Sufficiency Bursary Program. The goal is to reach $10,000 in monetary donations during December.

This program empowers women to become financially self-sufficient.

Grants can be used to pursue further education, to develop a small business or co-operative, or to help with child care and transportation.

Each year, the co-operative supports more than 1,000 women along their journey from crisis to financial self-sufficiency and wellness. It has been supporting women in the community for more than 27 years.

The co-op operates four resale shops in Victoria and Langford. The revenue from the shops, together with financial donations, covers the cost of running the non-profit co-operative and funds five empowerment programs for women.

To donate, pop by one of the WIN shops, send a cheque to Victoria Women in Need Community Co-operative, 785 Pandora Ave., or go online at womeninneed.ca.

Credit union employees encouraged to volunteer

An employee volunteer program encourages employees of a credit union to give back to their community.

This year, Coast Capital Savings launched Help Heroes, which allows employees to volunteer for up to 7.5 paid hours annually at a non-profit organization of their choice.

In addition, participants earn up to $10 per hour of volunteer time — up to $1,000 — for a charity of their choice.

That’s great news for Mathew Stotyn, a Sidney resident who is passionate about spending time with the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department — with more than 60 hours this year alone. He has taken part in wildfire deployments, Christmas food drives, fundraiser weekends and more.

“I started volunteering to make a difference for people who were in a time of need,” said Stotyn.

“Since I started, the experiences I’ve had have further fed that desire to help. I am lucky to work for an organization that prioritizes community leadership and empowers its employees to make it a priority, too.”

The company donated more than $45,000 to various organizations as part of its Giving Tuesday initiative, in which it celebrates some of the employees who are most active in their communities.

For more information, go to coastcapitalsavings.com.

Good Food gift supports 160 families

Give 160 local families facing poverty the Gift of Good Food all year long. Every $500 supports a family with good food every two weeks for a year.

The program, an initiative of the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group, is in its fourth year.

Recipients enrolled in the Gift of Good Food program receive healthy produce, as opposed to non-perishable food — all year long, not just at Christmas.

“Basically it’s a gift, a little Christmas gift every two weeks for my family,” said a recipient.

The Gift of Good Food uses the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group’s Good Food Box to distribute the food. The total is split among 16 organizations, including community centres, First Nations, transition houses and other organizations.

The goal is to raise $80,000, enough to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to 160 families throughout the region in 2019.

The campaign runs until Dec. 31. To donate, go to thegiftofgoodfood.ca/donate.

French conversation tops its goal

Last Sunday’s marathon conversation en français fundraiser exceeded expectations, raising almost $1,500 for the Gift of Good Food campaign.

Tina Price’s goal was to raise $500 by carrying on a conversation in French for 10 hours straight. She underestimated the response.

“It was a very fun and successful day. I had at least two people at my table the entire time, at some points there were seven people,” said Price. “All up, 25 to 30 people came by to chat in French during my 10 hours. One of my friends enjoyed himself so much, he decided to take up the challenge, too, and stayed for nine hours. We raised a total of $405 yesterday alone, which when added to the online donations for our team brings us to $1,480 as of this morning [Monday].”

You can still make a donation at thegoodfoodbox.ca/donate.

Helping hands reach coast-to-coast

Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada is kicking off its third annual Operation Holiday Helping Hands for Canadians in need.

The coast-to-coast outreach supports those less fortunate and works to ensure those who served our country are not forgotten during the holidays.

Volunteers will be helping out at shelters and drop-in centres and volunteering for the good of the community. They will also be co-ordinating a gift-card drive for veterans in need.

“As the holidays draw near, it is easy to forget the fact that thousands of individuals across Canada are struggling to stay fed and stay warm, including those who have served to protect our country,” says Jim Lowther, president and CEO. “It’s amazing what something as small as a gift card can mean to a veteran who is struggling during the holidays. To a veteran in need, it isn’t just a gift card: It’s proof that Canadians care and that they aren’t forgotten.”

The organization encourages Canadians to consider providing a helping hand at their local shelter, or donating a gift card for a veteran in need.

Mail gift cards to VETS Canada, 53 Queen St., P.O. Box 214, Dartmouth N.S., B2Y 3Y3, mail cheques with “GiftCard Drive” written on the memo line or donate online at vetscanada.org/donate.php.

Hospital Foundation gala sets a record

The Victoria Hospitals Foundation Visions gala, held last month, set a record total, raising $800,000 toward the purchase of 100 pieces of equipment for Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals.

“Every year, Visions makes a substantial contribution to health care on Vancouver Island and it’s heartwarming to see so many generous people come together for a great cause,” said Darlene Hollstein, chair of the steering committee.

“Our whole community benefits from the outstanding impact of this event. Visions has raised more than $8.6 million for equipment for our hospitals over the past 28 years. It’s a remarkable testament to the generosity of the community we live in.”

The You Are Vital campaign will continue through to March 2019 with the foundation telling the stories of Island Health care teams and the patients they serve.

Donations can be mailed to Wilson Block, 1952 Bay St., Victoria B.C., V8R 1J8, calling 250-519-1750 or online at victoriahf.ca.

Latin American feast celebrates traditions

The Latin American Catholic Community of Victoria is inviting the community to join in celebrating the first Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sunday, Dec. 16 at Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

The feast, originally a Mexican tradition, now takes place in all Latin American countries and the Philippines. Families gather to celebrate history, traditions, music and food.

Next Sunday’s event will first be celebrated with a mass, followed by a procession and banquet. A traditional lunch will be $10, with hot dog and fries costing $5. Drinks and desserts will also be available.

The mass starts at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, 4635 Elk Lake Dr.

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