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Our Community: Hand project raising funds, Oak Bay votes for fox's den sculpture

The Victoria Hand Project, which helps create prosthetic arms and hands, is working with local partners to open a new clinic in Kyiv, Ukraine
COO Kelly Knights, left, and CEO Michael Peirone with prosthetic arms and hands in the UVic Engineering Lab Wing. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The Victoria Hand Project, which helps create ­prosthetic arms and hands, is working with local ­partners to open a new clinic in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The clinic will supplement ones already operating in Lviv and Vinnytsia.

The local charity uses 3D printing technology to offer low-cost, on-site manufacturing of prosthetic devices for amputees in the war-ravaged country.

Michael Peirone, CEO of Victoria Hand Project, says since it expanded its operation to Ukraine in 2022, demand has grown exponentially. “We have a solution — an accessible alternative — for those who cannot access care anywhere else.”

The Victoria Hand Project began in 2015 as a u­niversity research project, with a ­humanitarian ­mission to provide accessible prosthetic care to ­under-resourced communities around the world.

Apart from supporting initiatives in Canada and the U.S., the project operates in 10 countries, including Ukraine.

While the project supplies expertise, equipment and training, health-care providers within the ­country ­provide clinical expertise, ensuring sustainable, ­ongoing support for the amputee and their community.

The project has launched a Hands for Ukraine ­fundraising campaign to help fund the effort.

Peirone said the group can use 3D-printing ­technology to manufacture an arm for $120 to $160 — a fraction of the cost of a conventional prosthetic — but needs money to purchase the 3D printers, which cost between $3,000 and $3,500, as well as the materials to produce the prosthetic. Some of the parts, such as stainless-steel screw pins to join the components, are sourced locally from ­Acklands Grainger Victoria.

Peirone said the Ukrainians have been asking for prosthetic lower limbs as well, but 3D-printed limbs aren’t yet strong enough to support a person’s weight.

Due to the nature of war injuries, demand for ­above-the-elbow prosthetics far exceeds supply, with a long waiting list. “The 3D printers over there are running 24/7 and the need for source material to create those missing limbs is high,” Peirone said.

• For more information, or to donate, go to ­

>>> Oak Bay votes for fox’s den sculpture

Oak Bay residents have picked In-Den-Tation as the People’s Choice at the Arts Alive Annual Sculptural Exhibition, on display until April.

Organized by Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and ­Culture, the exhibition features 10 outdoor sculptures in the municipality, with the winning installation located on the corner of Oak Bay and Monterey Avenue.

The award goes to local artist Scott Gillies, who ­created a whimsical work that explores the 2023 theme — What is Home? — encouraging viewers to peek inside a fox’s den.

“In this depiction of home, a family of foxes enjoys a sunny afternoon at the mouth of their den,” said Gillies. “By anthropomorphizing animal’s homes, it might help us to have more empathy for them and encourage us to do a better job of sharing the world with them.”

Runners-up were Horaltic Pose – Cormorant by Erick James, and Shelter, created by Peter Vogelaar.

Votes were collected online between August and November last year.

The sculptures will remain on display until April. Walking/cycling maps to view the sculptures are ­available at Oak Bay Recreation Centres and on the Arts Alive webpage. The sculptures are also available for private purchase.

Artists’ applications for this year’s competition are available at

• For more information on the program, go to

>>> Soap for Hope gives kits, helped by TC Christmas Fund

Soap for Hope Canada says it saw a 40 per cent increase in demand for hygiene kits that went into Christmas baskets for 1,000 low-income seniors, with help from the Times Colonist Christmas Fund.

The charity, which provides hygiene products to individuals and families in need, gave out 1.7-million items in 2023.

It provides soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, body wash and body lotions to the region’s ­vulnerable ­population, financially insecure families and ­low-income seniors. The packages also include linens, such as facecloths.

Hygiene kits were distributed through James Bay New Horizons, Saanich Seniors, Seniors Serving ­Seniors, Oak Bay Seniors, Beacon Services, Prince Edward Lodge, Esquimalt Seniors and Gorge Road ­Hospital.

• For more information, or to donate, go to ­

>>> Saanich Peninsula artists can now seek grants all year

Artists applying for the Saanich Peninsula Arts and Culture Grants Program in 2024 can now apply throughout the year as well as submit multiple ideas for consideration.

The grant program is a collaborative effort between ArtSea Community Arts Council and ­municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula. It aims to encourage the ­development of arts initiatives by local artists, ­performers, or community groups.

• For more information on eligibility criteria and ­application procedures, go to ­­­


>>> Sidney Rotary bingo’s back at Mary Winspear Centre

The Sidney Rotary Club’s Old Time Bingo community fundraising event is back at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney this week and in February and March.

At last year’s event, the service club saw about 60 keen bingo players for each session, playing for pots ranging from $40 to $70.

Snacks and beverages are available for purchase.

Slider bingo cards are $2 per game. The games run 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and Mar. 24 in Room 2 of the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Ave., ­Sidney.

• For more information, go to

>>> 15th annual gingerbread showcase nets $106,791

Habitat for Humanity’s 15th annual Gingerbread ­Showcase raised a record $106,791.

Visitors were treated to a gallery of creative ­interpretations centred around the theme Family ­Traditions, casting a total of 14,360 votes for their favourite creations.

Jessica Hoehne clinched the highly coveted People’s Choice Award with her entry, Games Night, said Scott Dutchak, CEO Habitat for Humanity Victoria, adding: “Habitat Victoria feels like the biggest winner.”

“We can’t thank our bakers, donors and volunteers enough for a success on this scale. The Gingerbread Showcase is our most important fundraiser of the year, and simply wouldn’t happen without them.”

Partners in the fundraiser included Parkwood Place, Urban Systems Foundation and the Hotel Grand Pacific.

Prize ribbons were awarded in the following ­categories:

• Best first impression — Games Night by Jessica ­Hoehne

• Best use of skill and technique — From Old to New by Sarah Rachel Hoffman

• Best interpretation of the theme — Family Game Night by Mel Heibert and Sheena Wells

• Most creative and original — Sharing the Night Together Once Again by Marciela Vazquez

• Most diverse use of ingredients — What They Said by Teagan and Tracy Aitchison

• To view all the prize-winning creations, go to ­

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