Our Community: Socks make a difference for street people

For the third year in a row, local elementary schools will engage in mock sock battles as a way to win the real war of keeping the region’s street-entrenched and impoverished community warm and healthy.

Fairfield United Church minister Rev. Beth Walker has teamed up with Our Place and 10 elementary schools on a campaign to collect thousands of pairs of socks to warm the feet of Victoria’s vulnerable people.

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The local charity gives out as many as 100 pairs of socks daily.

“It is fantastic to have so many schools participating in this fun event,” said Don Evans, executive director of Our Place. “Socks are essential clothing, but they are not easy to acquire or maintain when people lack access to laundry facilities or income to purchase them.”

In the light-hearted clothing drive, participants lobby sock bombs at their school principals and each other.

The event will take place from Monday to Friday at Eagle View Elementary, George Jay Elementary, Lake Hill Elementary, Margaret Jenkins Elementary, McKenzie Elementary, Northridge Elementary, Quadra Elementary, Sir James Douglas Elementary, South Park Elementary and Tillicum Elementary.

“This simple act of collecting socks for others increases awareness about the conditions in which some members of our community live,” Walker said.

“The act of tossing socks is a fun game to inspire participation, but when you pair the collection with information, stories and conversation about what it’s like to experience homelessness, it also builds compassion and empathy.”

For more information or to donate, go to ourplacesociety.com.


A sweet way to support dry grads

Pick up a chocolate bar for $1 with your beer as the B.C. Liquor Stores’ annual Support Dry Grad Campaign returns until the end of March.

The initiative raises funds for public and independent schools to host safe, alcohol-free celebration events for graduating high school students. It reinforces the stores’ commitment to corporate social responsibility, preventing underage drinking and giving back to the communities they serve.

“This is the 17th year that B.C. Liquor Stores have participated in the Support Dry Grad campaign, and we are proud to assist graduating high-school students across the province to safely enjoy an important milestone in their lives,” said Blain Lawson, general manager and CEO, Liquor Distribution Branch.

Proceeds from chocolates being sold in stores go directly to schools in the local community. Almost $365,000 was raised last year and $6.2 million since 2001.

This year, 55 public-school districts and 59 independent schools have applied for funding. All participating schools must sign an agreement that the money is only to be used toward graduation celebrations that are alcohol-free. Activities funded include: camping and watersport weekend; banquet and social; Vancouver Harbour cruise; chaperoned dance with DJ; event at the Vancouver Aquarium; supervised games at Burnaby 8 Rinks.

For more information, go to bcldb.com/corporate-social-responsibility/community-fundraising/support-dry-grad.


Students learn about diversity, homelessness 

A group of Grade 8 French Immersion students at Central Middle School have embarked on Faces of Victoria Exhibit and Instagram Campaign, an ambitious project to showcase diversity and promote inclusivity — while raising funds for Our Place.

Inspired by Humans of NY and compelled by their media and social justice class, the 13-year-old students have launched a campaign on social media to celebrate the many faces of Victoria

“We are hoping to bring together the community in a way that we’ll be able to acknowledge all humans as humans,” said Astrid Neilson-Miller, one of the students involved in the project.

In one story, a young transgender participant shared the universal experience that is heartbreak. Another, photographed outside Our Place, shared her difficulty finding housing while still not fully recovered from a childhood in residential schools.

“The students felt strongly that the way to combat racism and intolerance is to get to know your neighbours,” said Alan Barwin, the teacher who is leading this class for the second time. “Meeting and talking to people from all backgrounds and lifestyles has opened up my students’ eyes and hearts.”

The project includes art and a behind-the-scenes documentary about the project produced by the students, in addition to the portrait stories. The students will share their photos and stories on Instagram and Facebook as a way to help others to better understand the diversity of our community.

The project will be open to the public and on display at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday in Victoria city hall council chambers.

Further showcases include local coffee shops, Our Place and Fairfield United Church during the Moss Street Paint In. The students also hope to keep the project alive through the school’s Me to We club.

For more information, go to lillywood3.wixsite.com/facesofvictoria.


Join a walk so kids can talk

Show your support for children by signing up or volunteering for the Walk so Kids Can Talk, a fundraising and awareness walk, May 7 at Songhees Point.

Victoria is one of 40 communities across Canada hosting the walk, which is in its 16th year.

Proceeds from the event benefit Kids Help Phone, Canada’s only 24/7 counselling and information service for young people. Since 1989, the organization’s professional counsellors have been listening to children, often when no one else can or will.

In 2014, children from British Columbia reached out more than 80,500 times through various channels.

People can register for the walk and gather pledges or donate directly to the cause.

Participants can sign up ahead or register on the day of the event. Registration opens at 10 a.m., and the five-kilometre walk along the picturesque Westsong Walkway begins at 11 a.m. May 7 at Songhees Point Park, 50 Songhees Rd. Strollers and wheelchairs are welcome, but please leave pets at home.

For more information, go to walksokidscantalk.ca.


It’s cleanup time for Brentwood Bay

Watch certified divers from Rockfish Divers perform an underwater cleanup of the Brentwood Bay Marina and Eco-Adventure Centre today as part of the announcement that the Saanich Inlet and the Southern Gulf Islands have been recognized as an official Hope Spot.

The designation was conferred by Mission Blue and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean. The designation strives to recognize, empower and support individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

The Rockfish Divers Marine Science Foundation has performed baseline monitoring for various marine creatures and plants throughout the area in order to monitor changes taking place underwater over time.

This new Hope Spot is bordered by Vancouver Island, the mainland of North America, and the USA/Canada Border. It extends as far north as Gabriola Island, east as far as Saturna Island, south as far as D’Arcy Island and includes the Goldstream estuary that feeds Saanich Inlet.

There will be an underwater cleanup of marine debris today between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Brentwood Bay Marina and Eco-Adventure Centre, 849 Verdier Ave.

Certified divers are welcome to participate. Staff scientists will sort and catalogue debris while safely returning any unsuspecting marine critters to the ocean.

For more information, go to mission-blue.org or rockfishdivers.com.


Congregation honours longtime volunteer

Last Saturday, the Congregation Emanu-El held a special Shabbat service to honour the retirement of Penny Tennenhouse, a founding member of Avodah, the synagogue’s social-action committee, after 11 years of service.

In her drash (sermon) Penny reflected on how the committee has become an essential part of the fabric of the congregation. The group is the vehicle through which congregants practise tikkun olam (repair of the world) — putting Jewish values into action.

Avodah has about six significant ongoing projects and, in partnership with several Victoria social services, touches the lives of people in the community.

Events it hosts include a birthday party every month — serving cake and ice cream — at Our Place, and the Saturday night Out of the Rain Youth Shelter at the synagogue, among others.

Hannah Rabinovitch will take on Tennenhouse’s duties.

For more information, go to congregationemanuel.ca.


Tasty treats are also colourful

On Tuesday, 15 participating chefs at the Colour Your Palate competition will each draw their top-secret colour (red, yellow, green, purple or orange). They then have a month to select ingredients, experiment and perfect an award-winning canapé for judging, April 11 at the Victoria Conference Centre.

The annual competition, in its 10th year, pits chefs against each other in a challenge to use colour creatively. The competition is a fundraiser for the artsREACH Society, which delivers free arts workshops in capital region public elementary schools to children who would not receive and benefit from high-quality arts training otherwise.

The submitted canapés are judged blind by industry experts and are eligible for awards: Best Tasting Savoury Creation, Best Tasting Sweet Creation and Most Colourful Creation.

At the event, the public will get to sample each of the entries and vote for the People’s Choice winner. Tickets are $95 in advance and can be purchased online. The event runs 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 11 at the Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas St. Patrons must be 19 years of age or older to attend.

For more information, go to artsreach.ca/colour-your-palate.


Thrifty Foods gives present on its birthday

Thrifty Foods celebrates its 40th birthday this year, but is giving a present to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. and Yukon instead.

On Thursday Thrifty Foods Sidney store manager, Kurtis Francis presented a $12,465 cheque to Lea Silver, community development co-ordinator for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Throughout February, the grocery store chain donated $2 from the sale of every Sensations Extra Virgin Olive Oil one-litre bottle toward the charity. Customers were also able to contribute by donating their three-cent reusable bag refund or by making a cash donation at the till.


Dinner and auction shows support for Scouts

Rekindle old relationships and meet new friends at the annual Baden-Powell Buffet Dinner and Silent Auction, April 8 at the CFB Esquimalt Chief and Petty Officer Mess.

The fundraiser is hosted by the 30th Baden-Powell Guild, a group of Scouters (some fairly senior) who actively support Scouting in Greater Victoria.

Proceeds from the event will support the Marigold Scout Hall, and will help 25 Scouts, Venturers and Rovers from various Victoria groups to pay their way to the Canadian Jamboree in Halifax in July and a Rover Moot in Iceland.

Tickets are $50 and include a roast-beef buffet, auctions and entertainment with an East Coast flair by Old Black Rum, a local band. Doors open at 5, dinner at 6 p.m. April 8 at the mess, 1575 Lyall St.

For more information, go to victoriascouts.ca/Events/ bpdinner.php or by emailing auction@victoriascouts.ca or bpdinner@victoriascouts.ca.


Family’s vigil remembers missing son

Join the family of Desmond Peter on Sunday as they hold an open candlelight vigil to mark the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of their son.

Desmond was 14 years old when he was last seen at the old Malaspina College in Duncan, on Cowichan Way near the Trans-Canada Highway, March 2007.

Desmond’s family, along with the Missing Children Society of Canada, is inviting the community to come together as a show of support not only in their search for their son, but for all the families searching for answers about their missing loved ones.

The candlelight vigil runs 2 to 3 p.m. today at the Si’em Lelum Gymnasium, 5574 River Rd., Duncan. A potluck supper will be held following the vigil, 3 to 5 p.m. at Shaker Church, 3100 Church Rd., Duncan. People are welcome to bring a dish of their choice.

The Missing Children Society of Canada’s mission is to reunite missing children with a safe haven through professional investigations, emergency response, public awareness and family support programs. For more information, go to mcsc.ca.


Give roses and the gift of music

You have until Friday to order a bouquet of a dozen roses for Symphony of Roses Day, a fundraiser for the Vancouver Island Symphony.

The event, in its 18th year, sees lucky recipients who live from Ladysmith all the way up to Qualicum Beach, and including Gabriola Island, receive a box of beautiful, colourful, long-lasting, premium roses from Turley’s Florists in Nanaimo.

The flowers will be delivered by volunteers on Symphony of Roses Day, Wednesday, March 22.

“We get compliments every year on the quality of the roses,” said Marianne Turley of Turley’s Florists. “We can only do this because of the support of our suppliers, the many volunteers and our staff. It has become a labour of love on our part. And we couldn’t do it without Jim (her husband), who knows and organizes all the delivery routes.”

A box of 12 roses costs $32 (including taxes, etc.) or 24 roses for $60. All orders must be placed through Turley’s Florist, 60 Terminal Ave., Nanaimo, by 4 p.m. March 17. People wishing to pick them up can do so from 9 a.m. onwards. To order, call 250-754-6344 or download the order form from festivalnanaimo.com or vancouverislandsymphony.com and fax it to 250-754-2191 or drop it off at the flower shop.


Pharmacists’ college seeks public members

Members of the public have until Friday to sign up to serve on committees at the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia.

The committees are composed of registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians — as well as members of the public.

These committees assist the college in meeting its legislated mandate to protect the public by ensuring practitioners have the knowledge, skills and abilities to provide safe and effective pharmacy care.

Committee members are appointed for terms of up to two years and are eligible for reappointment for a maximum of three consecutive terms.

For more information, go to bcpharmacists.org/news/college-now-recruiting-volunteers-serve-its-committees.

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