Dave Obee: Generosity pours in, we’re passing it on just as quickly

We are going to get through this COVID-19 crisis, and B.C. Ferries will help us get there. I have 50,000 reasons to say that.

When the Rapid Relief Fund launched on Saturday, one of the first emails to arrive was from Mark Collins, the president and chief executive officer of B.C. Ferries.

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“Thank you for creating this caring endeavour in this time of extraordinary need,” he said. “B.C. Ferries will donate $50,000 to the fund on Monday.”

And they did. We have the money in hand, but not for long — as the name of the fund implies, our goal is to get cash in record time to organizations that can put it to work.

The fund was created by the Victoria Foundation, the Times Colonist and the Jawl Foundation to provide security for those in need. That might mean food, and that might mean shelter. Whatever it takes; we will be there for those in need.

The response to this fund drive has been inspiring, and a reminder that yes, we live in the most compassionate, most caring part of the world. We, the community, donated more than $1 million within 36 hours of the campaign going live. We are blessed to live where we do, where we care about our neighbours, and all the friends we have yet to meet.

And now, it’s on to the second million, and then the third. We will not quit until our work is done.

Many of you included comments with your donations, and we appreciate those as well — because they remind us of why this campaign matters to so many people.

“Because supporting our communities has never been more important.” “Let’s love one another right now.” “Everyone, please take care of each other!”

“I can help in a small way. Together we can help in bigger ways.” “In memory of John C S Edwards.”

Another tribute: “I’m making this donation in honour of my adopted niece, Christine Archibald, who was murdered in the London terrorist attack, June 2017. She was a social worker at a homeless shelter; if alive now, she’d be on the front lines. #chrissysentme”

Here is a challenge: “I’m donating what I will be saving by working from home. I challenge others who are actually saving money though this and actually still have jobs.”

And a reminder that the fear and anxiety in society these days can manifest itself in our interactions with others: “Thank you for organizing this antidote to the very poor behaviour that has recently been on display from some. We need to moderate our needs and come together in crisis.”

Here’s another reminder. This economic downturn is affecting many people who would not normally have to ask for help. They have no idea what to do now, and most are still in shock from what has happened to them in the past few weeks.

They are in need, and we have to meet that need. We also need to help the people who already rely on non-profits for support.

Everyone is affected; everyone is being hurt. Can’t make your rent payment? Think of your landlord’s mortgage. Been laid off by a local small business? Think of the owners of that business, our neighbours, the people who fear that their entire investment might be gone if this downturn lasts too long.

Yes, everyone is suffering. Yet, many of us are still willing to donate, still ready to open our hearts and our wallets to those who need help. Thanks to everyone for that.

And thanks as well for supporting local businesses now, and in the weeks and months to come. They are essential to our community, have been for years, and let’s hope they will be for many more.

Remember that local businesses support us, and that we should support them in return.

With that in mind, and after a quick phone call with my friend Mike Black at Capital Iron, I had proof. Here’s the deal: Buy a gift card at Capital Iron, and the store will donate 10 per cent of the amount to the Rapid Relief Fund. Simple enough.

Capital Iron is still open, while most other stores have closed. Just about anyone who runs a retail outlet or a restaurant, closed or not, might like to sell some gift cards. Contact them. Tell them I sent you. And remind them of the Rapid Relief Fund, because this campaign will benefit everyone in the entire community.

We will pull through this. We will be stronger and wiser, and we will owe much of our success to our neighbours. This is a caring community in action.

Thanks a million, Victoria. And soon, a million more.

dobee@timescolonist.com

HOW TO DONATE

• Online at rapidrelieffund.ca. Tax receipts will be issued.

• By mail. Send cheques to the Victoria Foundation at #200 — 703 Broughton St., Victoria, B.C., V8W 1E2.

Please ensure they are made out to the Victoria Foundation. Note the ‘Rapid Relief Fund’ in the memo line or in a cover letter. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.

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