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Recipient thanks donors to annual Christmas Fund

There is little to spare in Kecia Larkin's household.

There is little to spare in Kecia Larkin's household.

Furniture in the small living room is well-used, many decorations on the Christmas tree are homemade, and an extra expense, such as paying for a bus pass, can tip the family finances over the edge.

"I am a single mom on a fixed income and I have been living with illness for a number of years. We live in poverty," Larkin, 38, said frankly.

There are memories of past Christmases that were sadly lacking in peace, joy and plenty. Larkin and her 16-year-old daughter, Rakiya, and eight-year-old son, Owen, spent many holidays homeless, couch surfing or living in motels.

This year is different.

About a year ago, Larkin managed to secure stable housing -- although the $820 monthly rent for the Saanich apartment eats a big hole in her disability cheque of less than $2,000 -- and the trio is looking forward to spending the holiday together.

"We are already happy and satisfied. My kids will come home and eat dinner and look forward to Christmas and that's as good as it gets. Anything else is a bonus," said Larkin who has been ill for several years, and unable to work; she previously was employed by non-profit agencies. "This is the first year we are able to relax and have Christmas. Maybe bake some cookies or make some hot chocolate without worrying too much."

As in past years, though, their Christmas dinner together will be possible thanks to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, which solicits donations from readers in order to provide gift certificates for food and presents to those who need them.

And for that, Larkin wanted to say thank you.

"I know how hard people work and how generous they are and I wanted to explain how much it means to me and the children to have these extra things," Larkin said.

She decided this fall to write a letter to the Greater Victoria Christmas Bureau, which co-ordinates requests for help with a variety of agencies, including the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, hoping the message would reach the right people.

"As a family, we really want to say how much you help us out," she wrote. "As a mother you want your children to appreciate what they have as well as give to those who need a hand. The generosity we receive each year has not gone unappreciated."

Larkin believes in giving to others, something she has passed along to her children. This week, after raising money by returning bottles and saving a little from their allowance, Rakiya and Owen made a donation to the Out of the Rain Youth Shelter, buying rain ponchos and dog food. They also included hats, mittens, socks, hygiene items, candy canes and chocolates.

"My daughter wrote a wonderful card saying, 'You are not alone, you are loved and people are thinking of you.' It actually made me cry. She's a good kid," Larkin said.

"Victoria is a very difficult city to be poor in," said Larkin, who grew up on a reserve in Alert Bay. "But you don't have to go far in Victoria to know there are people who need more than you do."

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.

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- 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

- Leave a donation at the TubaChristmas event at Market Square tomorrow, 1 to 3 p.m..