The Times Colonist Christmas Fund turns 65 this year, but it is not quite ready for retirement — not when there is so much work to be done.
The fund has been helping people in need since 1956, when it was launched by the old Daily Colonist as the 500 Fund. Its goal was to help the 500 neediest families in Greater Victoria.
“Even in these prosperous times, Christmas is a dreary thing for a lot of people — a time when everybody else celebrates and they don’t.”
With those words, Seth Halton, the publisher of the Daily Colonist, launched the fund on Saturday, Nov. 24, 1956. His words still ring true today, and our commitment is as strong as ever.
In 1956, the Colonist collected money for almost a month, bringing in a total of $7,265 — enough to provide cheques of $14.53 to each of the 500 neediest families.
Last year, during some of the darkest days of the pandemic, the fund – now known as the Christmas Fund – raised a stunning $1.24 million.
That money has been put to work throughout the community, and we are eager to hand out more over the coming weeks.
Recipients this year have included the Salvation Army, which is our biggest recipient, as well as the Mustard Seed Street Church, Our Place, the Victoria Women’s Transition House, Nourish Cowichan and the 1 UP Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre.
During the Christmas season last year, we put your donations to work at 20 organizations in Greater Victoria, the Gulf Islands and as far north as Campbell River.
Most of the money is used to provide food, although the Christmas Fund donations also help to bring comfort and security to those less fortunate.
Back in 1956, Halton said the fund would help people buy items such as “extra medicine, overshoes if it snows Christmas Eve, boxes of chocolates and other little personal items.”
As a Colonist editorial said: “Perhaps only those who have experienced the dreary monotony of life with bare necessities supplied but never a spare dollar to spend, can really appreciate what an unexpected gift of this kind would mean.”
At the end of that year’s fund drive, Halton promised that the Colonist would launch another fund in 1957 — and there would be more fund drives every year, he said, “as long as the need exists.”
Sadly, the need still exists; in fact, 65 years after we launched the fund, there are pandemic-battered people who never dreamed they would need the help of the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, but who are now glad it’s there.
It’s all about the real meaning of the Christmas season: It is a time to help those less fortunate. Your donation does not need to be huge, because every little bit helps. You can make a difference.
HOW TO DONATE
You can donate by going to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund fundraising page. The site is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.
Or mail a cheque to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Road, Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5.
You can also use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.