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Fund's donors: from bridge ladies to kids

The Times Colonist Christmas Fund depends on donations large and small to make the season brighter for so many in need -- more than 2,300 households last year.

The Times Colonist Christmas Fund depends on donations large and small to make the season brighter for so many in need -- more than 2,300 households last year.

Here are some of the stories behind our readers who are reaching out to help people they've never met have a merrier Christmas.

For the last several years, members of a local women's bridge club have been pitching in a loonie each per game and then handing over the proceeds to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. This year, they donated $155 "in memory of Louise Butler, from her bridge friends."

Butler died Nov. 26 at age 86, and was described in her Times Colonist obituary as a giver "who never stopped giving." Along with her late husband Gordon, she began the L. and G. Butler Scholarship for the Disabled at the University of Victoria.

Usually, the friends give a greater amount to the fund, but they're getting together less often for bridge games these days, says Mary Waywell, one of the foursome who wanted to honour Butler's memory.

She was a "lovely lady, just a darling person," says Waywell, who is aware that it's going to be a rough year for many people.

Even kindergarten students from fortunate homes are getting that message.

"I am five years old and I want all kids to be merry," says a note with the $20 donation made by Annika Little and matched by her mother.

"That's the first time I've ever seen that," says Trish Tonkin, who has been administering mailed-in donations to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund for the last decade and was touched by the message.

Annika received 10 toonies for her birthday in October, and wanted to share the gift. The family has been talking about the fact that many little children don't have as much as she has.

After Annika decided to donate five toonies, mom Kristin Semmens said she'd match it.

"We were talking about where to donate to and we were looking at the newspaper together and I was talking to her about ... the Christmas Fund," Semmens says. "And she said, 'I think that would be a good place, mom.' "

Annika can't read, but the photo of a pensive young boy accompanying the donation form caught her attention.

"She wanted to mail off her toonies, but I said that I would send a cheque," Semmens says. "It certainly meant something to her to give it up, but she just couldn't believe that there were people who didn't have enough to eat and a warm coat.

"We're a very, very lucky family."

For the third year in a row, small businessman Wayne Massey, owner of Advanced Products Roofing in Victoria, has made a donation of $5,000 to the fund. The company has done some large commercial projects, from the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre to all of Millstream Village.

"I've given what I could afford over the years, and for the last few years, I've been able to do better," Massey says.

Why the Times Colonist Christmas Fund? "Christmas has always been a big thing in our family. And if I can help somebody else to have a better Christmas, I do."

His parents held down two jobs apiece to support five children when he was growing up. "We didn't have a lot of money as kids, but we always had what we needed."

If you would like to help others have what they need for a happy holiday, please consider a donation. The Times Colonist Christmas Fund is a member of the Greater Victoria Christmas Bureau, which co-ordinates requests for help with a variety of agencies.

Last year, donors to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund gave more than $250,000, which helped 2,300 households with Christmas dinner and gifts for the children.


The Times Colonist Christmas Fund is accepting donations now for this year.

- Mail a cheque to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 2621 Douglas St., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2.

- Use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438.

- Donate online through our partnership with the Queen Alexandra Foundation at

- The Christmas Bureau can be reached at 250-388-5704.

One hundred per cent of funds raised go to needy families.