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Our Community: Home-care companies surprise seniors with Valentine's gifts

Caregivers at two Vancouver Island businesses that provide at-home care to seniors have launched a Valentine’s Day gift-giving program to bring joy to clients who are not only alone but isolated from friends and family.
Geraldine and George D with some Valentine’s Day gifts they received from the caregivers and owners of Home Instead.

Caregivers at two Vancouver Island businesses that provide at-home care to seniors have launched a Valentine’s Day gift-giving program to bring joy to clients who are not only alone but isolated from friends and family.

The caregivers and owners of Home Instead franchises in Nanaimo and Courtenay have donated time and materials to surprise more than 50 seniors with gifts this week.

“Our senior population has been through so much this year, with COVID-19 having detrimental and lasting effects on many older adults’ wellbeing, physical and mental health,” said Sherry Larochelle, a caregiver at the Courtenay Home Instead office. “We see it firsthand whenever we go to work. This Valentine’s Day, we want to show our clients that they mean as much to us as we do to them.”

The home-care company has also launched Ready To Care, an initiative that promotes understanding of aging and encourages acts of kindness to seniors.

For more information, go to

Dodd’s leads month-long extension to Cool Aid coat campaign

A furniture store is spearheading a month-long extension to Cool Aid’s 13th annual coat drive

The social agency has reported donations of coats, jackets and other winter gear have been much lower than in previous years.

For the rest of the month, Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress, an independent furniture retailer, will accept gently used winter clothing at its Victoria location.

Cool Aid has a critical shortage of men’s coats and jackets for those living outdoors. They need about 200 men’s coats and jackets in a range of sizes, from medium to large, XL and XXL.

Gordy Dodd, owner of the furniture store that bears his name, kicked off the campaign extension earlier in the month by presenting CoolAid with 30 blankets.

The Victoria Cool Aid Society operates from 20 locations in Victoria, Saanich and Langford, and helps 12,000 people in the capital region annually.

Drop off donations of gently used or new men’s coats and jackets at the store, 715 Finlayson St. For more information, go to

 Grants support adoptions as hundreds wait for families

Projects in support of adoption in British Columbia are set to receive $126,000 in grants.

Grants from the Adoption and Permanency Fund of B.C. will fund seven projects delivered by five organizations across the province.

The fund was established in 2003 by the Ministry of Children and Family Development to help British Columbia’s children and youth awaiting adoption and/or other permanent connections.

As of December, more than 600 children and youth in B.C. were waiting for a permanent family, the Ministry of Children and Family Development reported.

In Victoria, a $20,000 grant was awarded to Parent Support Services of B.C. to implement online training for volunteers and to overhaul their curriculum.

The Adoption and Permanency Fund of B.C. is administered by the Victoria Foundation under the guidance of a nine-person advisory committee appointed by the Adoption Council of Canada.

Since its inception, the fund has granted more than $1.5 million for more than 225 projects across the province.

To see the complete list, go to the Victoria Foundation website.

United Way agencies aim to distribute a million masks

United Way agencies on Vancouver Island are part of the One Million Masks partnership, an initiative to distribute a million masks to those who need them across the province.

Business, transportation, transit and community organizations have collaborated on the project, with distribution organized by the United Way.

The masks are meant for children, youth, families, seniors, unsheltered homeless populations, new immigrant groups and anyone who has had difficulties in obtaining a mask.

“Everyone is doing their part to flatten the COVID-19 curve and we know that our local community partners are working tirelessly to keep their clients and staff safe,” said Signy Madden, executive director of the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island. “We are incredibly grateful to collaborate and share these masks throughout our community; they are a practical way we can help local frontline agencies that are providing essential supports throughout this crisis.”

The project is led by Deloitte Canada in partnership with TransLink, OEC, Vancouver Airport Authority, B.C. Ferries, BCAA, SCI and B.C. Transit.

The Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank is supporting United Way with local distribution of the masks to agencies across the Island with help from local BCAA branches.

Distribution began in Metro Vancouver in late January. Distribution to the rest of the province started last week.

For more information, go to

To youth in need, a target of 1.25 million free meals a year

Mealshare, a social charity that started in Victoria eight years ago, has announced a partnership with A&W nationwide to address food security for youth in need.

The goal of the partnership, which began at the beginning of the month, is to generate 1.25 million free meals a year.

Under Mealshare’s Buy One, Give One model, participating restaurants place a Mealshare logo next to selected menu items.

Whenever a customer orders one of those items, the charity promises to provide a healthy meal to a youth in need, paid for through a collection of $1 from restaurants for every meal sold.

Eighty per cent of the funds collected stay in the community where they are collected. The remaining 20 per cent provides meals internationally, through Save the Children Canada.

There are about 1,000 A&W restaurants in Canada, including 10 locations in Greater Victoria.

Since its inception in 2013, Mealshare has provided more than 3.8 million free meals to youth in need through 450 charity partners across Canada. In Victoria, they support the Breakfast Club of Canada.

For more information, go to

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