Dave Obee: We're looking for donations for literacy

Trent Frenkel made history twice on Wednesday, for being the first person to drop by the new Times Colonist office with money in his hand, and for making the largest donation (so far) to the coronavirus edition of the Times Colonist Literacy Society.

And with that donation, we are kicking off the second phase of this year’s fundraising drive.

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The literacy society helps school libraries and literacy organizations throughout Vancouver Island. Our work relies on community support, and our usual fundraising has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frenkel is the executive director of the Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation, which works as part of the Greater Victoria Firefighters Community Foundation to raise money for worthwhile causes.

The firefighters know first-hand how the pandemic is limiting their charitable efforts.

The firefighters had to cancel their plans for a sausage fest. Instead, they raised money by going in circles – a 24-hour relay around the track at Oak Bay High School in full gear including breathing packs. They were spurred on by donations taken by tap or through a collection box, in keeping with COVID protocols.

They raised about $10,000, and are using that money to give donations to Kidsport Greater Victoria, the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, as well as the Times Colonist Literacy Society – and we appreciate it.

Our normal fundraiser is a book drive at the Victoria Curling Club on Quadra Street, but we were not able to hold it this year. It would be far too risky to collect, sort and sell used books, given the crowds of volunteers and buyers that our book drive attracts.

But the need to support literacy is still there; school libraries and literacy organizations are counting on us. We can’t let COVID stop our work on behalf of the community.

We need to raise money to fill that need.

Our first phase was a drive-through book dropoff in August at The Breakwater District at Ogden Point. Russell Books gathered all the books and will pay an appropriate amount.

They got more books than they expected. They are still counting.

As we wait for their total, we are launching the second phase, a public appeal for donations with a realistic, achievable goal of $30,000 by the end of September. If we make that goal, we might set a higher target, because the more money we raise, the more additional funding we will get from Decoda Literacy Solutions, which distributes money from the provincial government.

Please donate if you can. Given staffing challenges resulting from the pandemic, we would prefer that donations be made through timescolonist.com; you will see the link to the donation form on the upper right corner.

Thanks to Frenkel and his firefighter friends, we are already a tenth of the way to our goal. We can do it.

Thanks, in advance, for your support as well.

dobee@timescolonist.com

> Direct link for donations: timescolonist.com/1.23601097

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