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Mustard Seed like family to Victoria woman

Having a place to go to be with people, share some food or simply spend a little time is a big part of Heather Raybone’s life.
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Heather Raybone, who is 62 and relies on a disability pension, attends the annual Christmas dinner at Bay Street Armoury.

Having a place to go to be with people, share some food or simply spend a little time is a big part of Heather Raybone’s life.

It’s often the Mustard Seed that fills the bill, a place where people find a range of services as well as a food bank that serves up to 7,000 people each month. During the Christmas season, the Mustard Seed expects to also give out about 1,200 food hampers.

This year, the Mustard Seed and the Salvation Army have teamed up with the Times Colonist Christmas Fund to help those in need. The partnership, which combines the Christmas Fund’s capacity to bring in donations with the ability of the Mustard Seed and the Salvation Army to reach into the community, is seen as an ideal way to ensure that assistance goes to the widest possible range of families and individuals.

Raybone, who is 62 and relies on a disability pension, thrives on the companionship that social agencies like the Mustard Seed can provide.

“I bond with most of the people,” she said. “It’s very supportive when you are on your own and you are my age, to have these places open when you don’t have a lot of money to work with.

“It’s even more important because it is kind of my family.”

Despite a broken leg, Raybone still makes her way to her favourite spots as much as she can.

“I’m that much more limited to what I can do and where I can go.”

Mustard Seed executive director Colin Tessier said adults like Raybone are part of a “major demographic that often goes hidden in our community.”

“We’re just beginning to look into that, and what the need is from a food security or insecurity perspective,” Tessier said. “There’s a lot of people who are aging in place and not only require support from food banks and other agencies, but don’t have the ability or the know-how to navigate that system or to get transportation to and from these things.”

He said making ends meet can be difficult for them. “With the cost of rents and many just on CPP and [employment insurance], it’s an incredibly marginalized portion of our society.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

How to donate

Go to timescolonist.com/christmasfund. The link on the page takes you to a site that’s open 24 hours a day for donations and provides an immediate tax receipt.

Or mail a cheque, made out to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, to the Times Colonist at 2621 Douglas St., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2.

You can also use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 during office hours, Monday through Friday.

Make cheques payable to "Times Colonist Christmas Fund"