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Our Community: Decorating Jeneece Place for the holidays, pizzas for firefighters

Volunteers Tracey and Adrian D’Silva have been decorating Jeneece House every year since it opened in 2012. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Volunteers deck the halls at Jeneece Place

Families staying at Jeneece Place over the holidays will have their spirits lifted thanks to a couple of volunteers who have been putting up a seasonal light display since the facility opened in 2012.

Jeneece Place is the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island’s home for families who need a place to stay when a child requires health care in Victoria. The house was the vision of Jeneece Edroff, who rallied family, community and the foundation to make it a reality.

For the past nine years, Adrian and Tracey D’Silva have turned up to decorate the home for the holiday season. Over the years, the D’Silvas, the Edroff family, Canadian Tire at Hillside Centre and others in the community have donated decorations and lights to brighten up Jeneece Place.

“We are extremely grateful for this annual donation of time and decorations by the D’Silvas,” said Veronica Carroll, CEO of Children’s Health Foundation. “With COVID and extreme weather events impacting families, it’s wonderful that Tracey and Adrian are helping to bring light, joy and optimism to families staying at Jeneece Place.”

This year, the D’Silvas have hung more than 140 strands of lights, 300 blanket net lights and more than 100 large tree decorations — many donated by Canadian Tire Hillside Centre. They have also installed a 1,000-bulb cluster light and two digital projectors to make the home sparkle.

Pizza idea catching fire

A Denman Island resident has come up with a novel way to show gratitude to the firefighters in her community — by providing them with organic grab-and-go-style pizzas.

Taina Uitto came up with the idea after one of the firefighters posted on social media: “Man, I could sure use a pizza” after a three-hour practice, followed by a stressful call-out.

She has teamed up with Ima’s Kitchen and would like to make a number of personal size, grab-and-go pizzas for the freezer at the firehall.

The pizzas will be made with Denman Island produce and meats. Ima’s Kitchen has agreed to donate time, expertise, use of their pizza oven and flour to the cause.

Uitto has started a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of the other ingredients, 100 pizzas at a time. She estimates that it will cost approximately $5 per pizza. In four days, the page has already raised $1,300 of her $2,000 goal.

Firefighters run for charity

The Sooke Firefighters Santa Run may be this year’s hottest fundraiser, Dec. 11.

Traditionally, the Santa Run is a capstone of the firefighters’ annual Fill-a-Fire-Truck campaign, gathering cash and food donations for 400 needy families in the community. Things will be a little bit different this year, however.

This year’s Santa Run will feature four fire trucks carrying Santa and helpers. The trucks, decorated with bright and colourful Christmas lights and playing festive holiday music, will be driven through neighbourhoods to spread holiday cheer. People are encouraged to make online donations only — food donations will not be accepted at the fire hall this year. The event is presented by the Sooke Firefighters Association and IAFF Local 4841.

The trucks will head out starting at dusk — approximately 5 p.m. — on Saturday. Listen for the music and be on the lookout for the sirens and lights.

Lottery corporation launches Love Local

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation has launched Love Local B.C., a new online campaign to support 11 food banks in the province — and local businesses at the same time.

Locally, the Goldstream Food Bank will benefit from people making donations or purchasing items and services provided by businesses around the province.

As part of the initiative, the lottery corporation purchased a number of items and gift cards from local businesses and made them available on the fundraising page. When an item is purchased, or a silent auction item is successfully bid on, the funds are directed to a food bank.

BCLC has also partnered with six casino locations throughout the province to host onsite food drives in co-ordination with the fundraiser. Elements Casino Victoria will collect non-perishable food items on behalf of the Goldstream Food Bank until Dec. 10.

“The Goldstream Food Bank Society depends on initiatives such as Love Local BC to provide hampers to approximately 300 of the less-fortunate households in the Western Communities on a monthly basis,” said Sandy Prette of the Goldstream Food Bank. “With the increase in those needing our services, we are very grateful for your kind and generous support.”

Peter ter Weeme, chief social purpose officer and vice-president of player experience for the lottery corporation, said it’s proud to support communities, non-profit organizations and local businesses throughout the province as part of the virtual fundraiser, which “comes at a such a pivotal time of need here in B.C.”

The fundraiser runs now until Dec. 10. To purchase a gift card, bid on a silent auction item or make a donation, go to

Women In Need appeals for items

The Victoria Women In Need Community Co-operative has extended its donation centre’s hours and is offering contactless dropoff as it appeals for donations.

WIN says it’s in need of household items, including gently used or new kitchen items (pots and pans, cooking utensils, dish racks, mixing bowls, measuring cups and matching dishes), as well as linens (bed, kitchen and bathroom linens), and new pillows. The WIN Co-op runs five empowerment programs, providing women, trans, non-binary and two-spirit people with support.

The donation centre is now open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 555 Ardersier Rd. For more information or to donate, go to

Santa’s Helpers seek cash for toys

Give everyone on the Saanich Peninsula a joy-filled Christmas with a donation to the Peninsula Santa’s Helpers’ Virtual Toy Drive, now until Dec. 15.

Following the success of last year’s online campaign, the helpers are once again accepting monetary donations to purchase gifts locally to support community businesses.

Peninsula Santa’s Helpers will work with the Sidney Lions Food Bank to connect with families in need in the Saanich Peninsula. Tax receipts will be given for donations of $50 or more.

Donations can be made online at or by calling 250-656-0275. For more information, follow Peninsula Santa’s Helpers on Facebook.