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Our Community: Lunch program feeds kids in need

Canada’s largest summer lunch program, delivering free lunches on a daily basis for underprivileged kids attending subsidized summer camps in nine cities across Canada, launched last week in Victoria.

Canada’s largest summer lunch program, delivering free lunches on a daily basis for underprivileged kids attending subsidized summer camps in nine cities across Canada, launched last week in Victoria.

Across Canada, an estimated one million children depend on school lunch programs. When schools close for the summer, many of these children go hungry.

The Feeding Our Future initiative will serve 6,000 lunches locally and 135,000 nationally this summer. Starting last Monday, free nutritious lunches were delivered through the Burnside Gorge Community Centre, Quadra Street Village Centre in Victoria and eight other cities in Canada.

The long-term project, an initiative of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, is Canada’s largest summer lunch program and has delivered more than one million lunches since its inception in 2001.

“About one million children depend on school lunch programs and many are left to fend for themselves in the summer,” said Barry Telford, president of Sodexo Canada. “Feeding Our Future is a simple, yet powerful, private/public sector partnership that addresses this significant social and health problem. Its success demonstrates what can happen when caring people work together to protect at risk kids against hunger.”

According to the 2014 Household Food Insecurity in Canada report, one in six Canadian children under the age of 18 live in households that have experienced difficulties in providing nutritious meals. Underprivileged children who rely on school lunch programs are particularly vulnerable when their schools are closed.

In addition to the lunch program, the foundation and its business and community partners will host barbecue parties to raise awareness of the need for action to protect underprivileged children against hunger.

Sodexo Canada has been delivering on-site service to clients in the healthcare, education, business and industry and remote-sites sectors for more than 40 years. For more information, go to

Masonic Lodge gives four $1,500 scholarships

Four deserving students got a helping hand with their post-secondary education, thanks to the United Peninsula Masonic Lodge No. 24.

The students, from Parklands, Stelly’s and Claremont Schools, each received a $1,500 scholarship for further academic study.

The scholarships continue a tradition at the lodge. The earliest record of a scholarship from the lodges associated with the current United Peninsula Lodge was from 1960, when a $250 donation was made to Victoria College. Since then, the different lodges that now make up United Peninsula Masonic Lodge have disbursed an estimated $200,000 in scholarships. For more information, go to

Step back in time at Mill Bay Scarecrow Festival

Take the whole family back in time at the Good Old ‘Daze’ Scarecrow Festival, which starts Monday and runs until July 21.

The festival is a hilarious look at things you might take for granted, with more than 100 life-size handcrafted figures in scenarios such as fast food, sports, entertainment and fashion.

All were created by volunteers with the Mill Bay/Malahat Historical Society, the Bamberton Historical Society, local businesses and community groups.

The event is a fundraiser for a new South Cowichan Museum, being established in the former Mill Bay United Church.

Pick up a map showing figure locations at participating Mill Bay businesses, vote for your favourites as often as you wish for the Best Scarecrow Figure Awards and be entered to win dozens of prizes.

An award ceremony takes place 4:30 p.m. on July 21, with a barbecue and live music.

The figures can be seen during regular opening hours at the Mill Bay Centre, 2720 Mill Bay Rd. Donations also accepted at Island Saving Credit Union and at the awards. For more information, call 1-250-743-9196 or go to

Kids helping kids in the name of art

Budding artists can help sick children at the Opus Art Supplies’ 5th Annual Kids’ Art Exhibition, a fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The goal of the event is to encourage the next generation of artists while supporting the Creative Art Program at the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Child Life Department.

Children 12 years and under are invited to participate in this inspirational and creative exhibit by picking up an eight-inch square Buzz canvas panel for a suggested minimum donation of $1.

Children are welcome to try out any artistic discipline — to sketch, paint, collage, draw or even sculpt their masterpiece onto the canvas.

The completed artwork must be submitted to their local Opus store by July 31, where it will be displayed as part of a province-wide exhibition Aug. 1 to 14.

While visiting the exhibition, members of the public will be invited to vote for their favourite artwork. The piece with the most votes at each Opus store will receive the People’s Choice Award and a $25 Opus gift card. Voters will be entered to win a $25 gift card as well.

All exhibitors will be entered for a chance to have their artwork custom framed.

People can pick up the canvas panels at any Opus Art Supplies store, in Victoria, downtown Vancouver, Granville Island, North Vancouver, Langley and Kelowna.

RV dealership hosts cyclists for cancer cure

A Vancouver Island recreational vehicle dealership is hosting Ride-a-Thons at their five locations in a bid to raise $20,000 for cancer research.

Arbutus RV has partnered with the Cell Cyclists to raise funds for the Deely Research Center in Victoria, through their participation in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

The research centre is located at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre in Victoria.

Throughout its 16-year history, research performed at the centre has provided valuable insights into how the immune system responds to cancer.

To support immunotheraphy efforts at the centre, a group of researchers formed a Ride To Conquer Cancer team called Cell Cyclists in 2015. All funds raised by the team will directly support the immunotheraphy program at the centre.

Ride To Conquer Cancer is a two-day, 200 kilometre cycling event from Vancouver to Seattle.

Ride-a-Thons are scheduled at the following Arbutus RV Locations: July 16 in Courtenay, July 23 in Nanaimo and Mill Bay, and Aug. 13 in Sidney and Port Alberni. For more information, call 250-327-3170 or go to

Cars and great music, all for the animals

Start your engines as Cruisin’ for Change revs up support for animal welfare next Sunday.

The fundraiser, hosted by the B.C. SPCA, is an opportunity to check out some sweet wheels, enjoy a leisurely drive up Vancouver Island, listen to live music and help animals in need while also supporting humane change.

“From everyday vehicles to exotic cars, from choppers and hogs to old-school classics, participants are taking to the street in support of the B.C. SPCA’s mission to develop more humane communities,” said Erika Paul, senior animal protection and outreach officer for Vancouver Island. “The drive will not only raise money for animals in need at the Victoria and Cowichan SPCA shelters, it will also demonstrate that people want to see local laws changing to include more humane animal management regulations.”

The event will begin in Victoria at Clover Point and proceed to Duncan, ending up at the Cowichan Sportsplex with a show and shine. Everyone is invited to view the wheels on show and enjoy the benefit concerts by the Jason Buie Band and Dryspell, and refreshments, snacks and barbecued delights from Fat Daddy’s Catering.

The event will raise funds to support animal-cruelty enforcement, humane education, outreach programs and help offset costs for the care of the animals in shelters.

For more information, or to register, go to

Grape Escape raises funds for MS research

There is still time to register for the Cowichan Valley Grape Escape, a two-day bike tour that is British Columbia’s largest MS Bike (MS Bike is the name of the organizer of the event) event and Vancouver Island’s premiere cycling event.

The tour takes participants through British Columbia’s newest wine region on a fully supported bike tour. You will enjoy a weekend in the beautiful Cowichan Valley, experiencing its wine, cuisine, art and breathtaking scenery — all while pedalling toward a cure for the autoimmune disease.

People can choose between 50-, 70- or 100-kilometre routes on the first day with options up to 50 km on the second. Sample the best food and wine of the region between stages.

Last year saw more than 400 riders raise in excess of $350,000 for MS research and quality of life programs on South and Central Vancouver Island.

Registration is $55 and participants are asked to raise a minimum of $400 to participate. Fees include all road support, meals and wine tasting experiences. The tour runs July 23 and 24. There are two options for accommodation — camping at no cost, or Shawnigan Lake School dorm rooms for $35. For further information, go to

Restored Audi will benefit sick kids 

A modern classic given a new lease of life will in turn support the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

A red 1986 Audi Coupe will be raffled off at this year’s Volksfest, a celebration of all things Volkswagen and Audi.

It was refurbished by Progressive Auto Repair and Maintenance, Audi and import car specialists.

The car was in need of a lot of work when it was initially donated to them by VCM Auto. The team at the repair facility could see the potential of not just in bringing the car back to life, but also to use it as a fundraiser for the community.

“It really has been a community effort to make this project happen,” said Ryan Patterson, manager of the facility. “The guys at Everyday Motor Centre have completely detailed the car, the team at Auto Obsessions went above and beyond in the repair of the body on the coupe, the people at Island Muffler and Brake repaired the exhaust, and the amazing group at Graphic FX Signworks have been instrumental in putting everything together and printing all of the signs and media needed.”

Proceeds from the raffle will go to Children’s Wish, the Canadian wish-granting organization that specializes in fulfilling the most heartfelt wishes for kids facing high-risk, life-threatening illnesses.

Tickets are $20. The draw for the Audi is at 2:30 p.m., today at Volksfest, which takes place at Cadboro Bay’s Gyro Park. Tickets are available at the event or at Progressive Auto Repair and Maintenance, 422 Burnside Rd. E.

For more information, go to

Nurses hit the road to aid hospice care

Two nurses will go the distance for their patients at Victoria Hospice.

The co-workers will both be taking part in the fourth annual Cycle of Life Tour, presented by Think Communications. About 60 people will cycle nearly 200 kilometres over two days — through the Saanich Inlet, Cowichan Valley and Gulf Islands — to raise funds and awareness for quality palliative care across Vancouver Island.

Jamie Linstead is one of several tireless Victoria Hospice nurses raising funds (and cycling a great distance) to support quality end-of-life care.

“When I came to work at Victoria Hospice, it was the first time I ever saw patient-centred care in action,” said Linstead. “It’s such rewarding work. I think I get as much out of it as our patients do.”

Since 2011, the tour has raised more than $230,000.

She will be joined by fellow nurse Amber Aleksich, whose mother’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent eight-year journey through chemo, pain and uncertainty motivated her to become a palliative-care nurse.

The tour runs July 23 and 24.

Registration is $100, with a commitment to raise $500 in pledges.

Donations fund almost half of Victoria Hospice’s annual operating costs and are critical for the ongoing operation of programs for patients and families and for education and research.

To learn more about Cycle of Life Tour or to support end-of-life care in our community, go to

Motorcyclists ride to help women in need

Local female motorcycle riders will don their helmets and take to the road for the fourth annual Canadian Women’s Ride Day next Sunday.

The fundraising ride, which takes place around the Cowichan Valley, is in support of Women in Need and Victoria Transition House.

“So many women have found a new sense of their own freedom and empowerment through learning to ride a motorcycle,” said Greer Stewart, founder of the event.

“We know they also care deeply about helping other women and will turn out in greater numbers to support each other and the charities that support women.”

This year, Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon will be on hand for the closing ceremonies at 1:30 p.m. The B.C. Nurses Union will also take part, bringing their health promotion bus to share women’s health information to participants.

Last year’s event raised $5,000 for local charities.

Registration is $25 and begins at 9 a.m. The ride departs at 10:30 a.m. from the Cobble Hill Country Grocer, 1400 Cowichan Bay Rd., Cobble Hill. There will be a barbecue, silent auction and live music by Mitch and the Baroness.

For more information, go to

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