Good neighbours: Kids get a back-to-school boost

The Fair Start program has reached the 15-year milestone. Started in 1998 by Linda Matthews and her late mother, Vera Webb, the program is a tool for collecting school supplies to give to children from low-income families. About 800 school-supply hampers are distributed annually through the Mustard Seed Food Bank.

Donations of new school supplies or monetary contributions can be made at the Mustard Seed. Cheques can be sent to the Mustard Seed at 625 Queens Ave., V8T 1L9 and should specify that they are for Fair Start.

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Contact the Mustard Seed at 250-953-1575.

Matthews said Fair Start is rewarding to everyone involved. She said she is always front-and-centre on distribution day, and enjoys seeing the excitement that is generated. "It's fun to see the kids getting their stuff."

Another returning effort providing school supplies to those in need is going on at the 1UP Single Parent Resource Centre. Supplies are being collected for 200 children and teens from single-parent households. Greater Victoria's three Staples stores are accepting cash donations, and store employees are using the money to put together customized backpacks full of supplies. The campaign continues into September.

Also gathering school supplies is the Victoria division of the Salvation Army, part of a province-wide plan to help 5,000 students. The Salvation Army program fills backpacks with supplies, and organizers have seen demand almost double in the past three years.

Collection continues until Sept. 11. Contact local Salvation Army offices at 1800SALARMY, or contribute at any Salvation Army facility.


The Victoria Foundation has announced the creation of 13 new endowment funds to help causes around Vancouver Island.

The list of benefiting groups ranges from the City of Victoria's Shape Your Future Legacy Fund to the Metchosin Foundation and the Pacific Peoples' Partnership. All groups are giving at least $7,500 to their endowment, while the Victoria Foundation is matching each contribution through its Smart & Caring Community Fund.

A total of $100,000 has been given to the new endowments through the fund, which was established in 2011.

New endowments were also started for the 1UP Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre, Bateman Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island, Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing Society, Learning Through Loss Society, Maritime Museum of B.C., Mount Douglas Secondary Alumni Association, Prostate Centre, Saanich Legacy Foundation and Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre.


The Ladies of Gospel - Maria Manna, Maureen Washington and April Gislason - raise their voices Aug. 19 in support of Mercy Ships Canada.

Mercy Ships Canada, where Manna is in charge of donor relations, is a branch of an international organization that operates hospital ships in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of the world. Its Victoria offices are located on Oak Street.

The concert takes place at Hermann's Jazz Club, 753 View St., with an 8 p.m. start. Tickets are $20 online (go to registrations/68/forms) and in advance from Hermann's, or $25 at the door (if available).


Find out about the 2012 Kayak for a Cure by attending a Thursday information evening at Ocean River Sports at 1824 Store St.

The 6: 30 p.m. session will outline how people can take part in the Sept. 9 event as part of a team or as an individual. Head volunteer Don Lowther will provide a synopsis of the annual effort, which raises money for cancer research and prevention.

Kayak for a Cure was first held at Vancouver's Jericho Beach in 2006 with 15 paddlers. Victoria joined the fold a few years later, and this year it will be held in six locations - including Columbus, Ohio, and Pensacola, Florida.

Money raised from the Vancouver event goes to InspireHealth, while funds from the other events go to Canadian or American cancer societies.

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