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Our Community: Gingerbread Showcase opens, students host banquet for Ukraine

The Gingerbread Showcase, now in its 14th year, features amateur and professional bakers creating edible masterpieces that are free to view over the Christmas season.
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Habitat for Humanity director of giving Kristine Lerch, left, and marketing and communications manager Jenessa Mattson with “Gnome Sweet Gnome,” created by Veronica and Alyssa Norman, at the Gingerbread Showcase, now on display at the Parkside Hotel & Spa in Victoria. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Gingerbread Showcase opens at Parkside

The Gingerbread Showcase — a holiday favourite and fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity — is now open to the public at the Parkside Hotel and Spa.

The Revera Living-sponsored event, now in its 14th year, features amateur and professional bakers creating edible masterpieces that are free to view over the Christmas season, until Jan. 2, 2023.

The rules are simple — all creations must be ­created on a 61-by-61-centimetre base and must be a ­minimum of 45 centimetres high. All the materials must be edible, with lights and other non-edible accessories ­prohibited.

Judges rate the entries based on first impression, use of gingerbread, interpretation of the theme — this year’s theme is “Magical” — structural integrity, skill and technique, overall concept, creativity and diversity of ingredients. No points are awarded on taste.

The creation that receives the most public votes — the People’s Choice Award — will be announced in January.

Visitors are also encouraged to vote for their ­favourite creations with a donation. The collection is located in the atrium of the Parkside Hotel and Spa, 810 Humboldt St. Money raised by the event will help build affordable homes for local families in need.

• For more information, or to see the creations, go to the Habitat for Humanity Victoria website.

Gala raises nearly $1.6M for Royal Jubilee Hospital

The Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s Visions Gala, held Nov. 19, raised close to $1.6 million for Royal Jubilee Hospital.

The funds will support the purchase of a $2 ­million “automated chemistry line” for diagnostic and ­investigative testing in the hospital’s lab and other ­priority needs identified through the Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s Emerge Stronger campaign.

The hospitals foundation says the current line is over 20 years old and test volumes have nearly doubled in the last 20 years, from 1.6 million annual tests to over three million tests per year. Samples are received from facilities across Vancouver Island.

“We are touched, humbled, and profoundly grateful for this community who united in support of our local hospitals, care teams, and the patients they so selflessly serve,” said Avery Brohman, the foundation’s chief executive officer.

“This year’s return of the Visions Gala marked the celebration of its 30th anniversary and an opportunity to connect with a community who has not been together for three years.”

Since the campaign was launched in October 2021, more than 3,700 donors have raised more than $5.74 million toward the $10-million goal to fund more than 200 pieces of priority equipment.

• For more information, or to donate, go to ­the Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s website.

It’s 25 years for Arbutus Singers

The Arbutus Singers are celebrating their 25th anniversary with a charity Christmas concert at Alix Goolden Hall for the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Choir Kids program.

Members of the 60-strong choir will sing old favourites — everything from Ave Maria to I’ll Be Home for Christmas — accompanied by Robyn McKinnon on piano and led by Jack Boomer, the director and founder of the choir 25 years ago.

The Choir Kids program is a non-auditioned choir program for school-age children in Greater Victoria. It focuses on singing for fun, fostering a love and appreciation for music.

Tickets are $20. The concert runs 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora Ave. (entrance off Johnson Street).

Tickets can be purchased online through the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s website, in person at the VCM box office, 900 Johnson St. or by calling 250-386-5311.

Flowers help Buy a Dream

Buy a Dream bouquet of flowers or an Island-grown Christmas tree from Country Grocer and help Help Fill a Dream support families of children diagnosed with a medical condition or severe health challenge, now until Dec. 15.

This is the 12th year Country Grocer, a family-run grocery chain with stores on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island, has embarked on a holiday campaign. This year, a portion of sales from Dream bouquets from Eurosa Farms and Christmas trees from Wintergreen Tree Farm will support sick children on Vancouver Island.

There will also be daily supplier promotions as well as the ability for customers to make a donation at the till throughout the campaign.

“We at Country Grocer couldn’t be more excited to partner with Help Fill a Dream for our 12th year in a row,” said Craig Cavin, operations manager of the grocery chain.

The campaign runs now until Dec. 15 at Country Grocer stores in Victoria, Salt Spring Island, Cobble Hill, Lake Cowichan and Nanaimo.

Help Fill a Dream has supported close to 4,000 Island children and their families since its inception in 1986.

• For more information, or to donate, go to helpfilladream.com.

Carols back at Victoria City Hall

Sit back and listen or join in as carolling returns to Victoria City Hall for its 55th year, in the antechamber, Dec. 6 and 7.

Three Victoria school choirs will sing favourite carols on the two days — École Marigold Elementary School, McKenzie Elementary School and Strawberry Vale Elementary School.

Performances end with an opportunity for guests to join in a festive singalong.

École Marigold Elementary School will perform at noon on Dec. 6, followed by McKenzie Elementary School at 12:45 p.m.

Strawberry Vale Elementary School will start at noon on Dec. 7, followed by McKenzie Elementary School at 12:45 p.m.

All performances are at Victoria City Hall, 1 Centennial Square.

Green Team at Mystic Vale

The Greater Victoria Green Team is hosting its last weekend of activities for the year — removing invasive plants such as English ivy, English holly, and Daphne.

The charity has been cleaning up the environment throughout the capital region since August 2014. The program encourages the community to get outside, get their hands dirty and help restore habitat.

Up to 40 volunteers are expected to gather at Mystic Vale on the University of Victoria campus from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. 

After a winter break, the Green Team will resume programs in January.

• For more information, go to the Green Team site or the event's Meetup page.

parrais@timescolonist.com

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