Rapid Relief Fund: Donations top $1M in day and a half

Update: The Rapid Relief Fund has raised its first $1 million to support those who are struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in Greater Victoria.

"The incredible response to this fundraising effort is proof once again that we live in one of the best places in the world. The community spirit is second to none. The level of caring for each other is wonderful," Times Colonist editor and publisher Dave Obee said Sunday afternoon, a day and a half after the fund was launched.

"Yes, we have a million dollars, but no, we are not stopping there. We are going for $2 million now, and then we'll go for $3 million. This drive will not end as long as our community is suffering from this downturn. In the meantime, the first million will be put to work. We will have it in the hands of the recipients as quickly as we can, so those in need will benefit right away.

"Thanks to the entire community for this. We are saving lives, helping our neighbours, and making new friends." 

Donate to the Rapid Relief Fund at rapidrelieffund.ca — other donation options are at the end of this story.

The Rapid Relief Fund was launched Saturday by the Times Colonist, the Victoria Foundation and the Jawl family with the goal of raising $1 million in one week for COVID-19 emergency relief in the community.

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The Victoria Foundation and the Jawl family kicked off the drive with donations of $250,000 and $100,000, respectively.

By Saturday evening, donations had topped $800,000, and several large donations will be announced in the coming days.

The first $1 million will go to the Mustard Seed, the Stan Hagen Centre for Families, the Salvation Army Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre, the Food Share Network and the Coalition of Neighbourhood Houses Capital Region. Once the initial goal is met, the campaign will continue and additional agencies will be funded to support ongoing needs and eventual recovery efforts.

Sandra Richardson, executive director of the Victoria Foundation, was thrilled to hear more than $1 million has been raised.

"Isn't that amazing. I mean what a community," said Richardson. "I'm just astounded actually. I shouldn't be. Our experience is that when the worst things happen, the absolute best in people comes out and they come together, so we're pretty pleased."

The generous response shows how hopeful we all are and that we recognize that the charitable section needs help more than ever before, said Richardson.

"There's so many of them, trying so hard and it's just harsh on them, so it definitely needs all of us to be on board. There's room for every citizen. Big and small, all of it adds up very quickly. We've just seen that," she said.

"It's nothing but breathtaking. It's significant work when you see what we see every day out in the community."

Seeing the $1 million threshold crossed is awesome, said Robert Jawl of Jawl Developments.

"The last 24 hours of fundraising efforts have been both humbling and inspiring for me to see the speed and scale of generosity that came out of the woodwork immediately upon the launch. It was an incredible testament to the Victoria community and how it rallies behind each other in a time of distress," said Jawl.

He said he kept checking the online donation tracker on Saturday.

"And to see it go up in $10 and $20 increments was incredibly emotional because it meant that this wasn’t just big deep-pocketed donors writing large cheques," he said.

"This was truly a community effort with quite literally hundreds of individuals contributors of all scales. To me that simply reinforced the whole premise that this is a community funded campaign, broad and wide, and the resultant funds are expended right back in the most immediate areas of need in our community. It was an incredible day."

To get help where it is needed most quickly, the fund had to focus on five beneficiaries in the first wave, said Jawl.

"But, we’re already seeing incredible momentum leading us into the next wave of fundraising. It will allow for a wider distribution of funds," he said. "Sandy and the gang at the Victoria Foundation have a committee emerging to really inform fund allocation based on best practices and diligent review in areas of most acute need, acknowledging everybody is hurting right now. So it’s thrilling to see that this is not just a 36-hour flash in the pan, but this is going to continue."

Organizers are calling on local businesses, foundations, families, individuals — anyone and everyone who is able — to make a contribution. Donations can be made online by credit card, as well as via cheque, PayPal, Interac e-transfer (for donations over $5,000) or gifts of securities, and tax receipts will be issued. Information and donation options can be found at RapidReliefFund.ca.

The breadth and immediacy of the current needs in our community are profound and many resource gaps exist,” said Robert Jawl of the Jawl Foundation.

“Encouragingly, this past week has been filled with inspiring anecdotes of business, non-profits, governments and individuals co-operating and swinging into action like never before. This immediate and broad-based engagement conveys a clear and unequivocal message: We are in this together and we will get through this together.” 

HOW TO DONATE

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

• By mail. Send cheques to the Victoria Foundation at #200 – 703 Broughton Street, Victoria, BC, 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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Earlier story: 

In less than one day, people in Greater Victoria donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help those pushed to the edge by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rapid Relief Fund was launched Saturday by the Times Colonist, the Victoria Foundation and the Jawl family with the goal of raising $1 million in one week for COVID-19 emergency relief in the community.

The money will be put to use in Greater Victoria within days.

“I just can’t believe the warmth and the generosity from the community in just such a short time — and this is just the start of it,” said Sandra Richardson, chief executive officer of the Victoria Foundation. 

“But this community is amazing at a time like this. It gives that little shot in the arm to the sector that is daily asking ‘Now what?’ It’s looking at food and shelter and all the things that some of us can take for granted. I’m feeling really great about the results so far.”

The Victoria Foundation and the Jawl family kicked off the drive with donations of $250,000 and $100,000, respectively.

By Saturday evening, donations had topped $800,000, and several large donations will be announced in the coming days.

The first $1 million will go to the Mustard Seed, the Stan Hagen Centre for Families, the Salvation Army Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre, the Food Share Network and the Coalition of Neighbourhood Houses Capital Region. Once the initial goal is met, the campaign will continue and additional agencies will be funded to support ongoing needs and eventual recovery efforts. 

The Rapid Relief Fund is a glimmer of hope right now, Richardson said.

“And it’s typical of Victoria. Over the years, this community has a magic glue to it. In times of crisis, it really comes together and steps up. It’s very hopeful for a community this size to see the response.”

“This is an extraordinary time, unprecedented in our lives,” said Dave Obee, editor and publisher of the Times Colonist.

“Many in the community are suffering. If we all work together, we can help everyone get through this, and we will emerge stronger.”

The response has been “fantastic,” he said. “It proves once again that Greater Victoria is a caring, compassionate place. We should all be proud to be part of this community.”

Organizers are calling on local businesses, foundations, families, individuals — anyone and everyone who is able — to make a contribution. Donations can be made online by credit card, as well as via cheque, PayPal, Interac e-transfer (for donations over $5,000) or gifts of securities, and tax receipts will be issued. Information and donation options can be found at RapidReliefFund.ca.

The breadth and immediacy of the current needs in our community are profound and many resource gaps exist,” said Robert Jawl of the Jawl Foundation.

“Encouragingly, this past week has been filled with inspiring anecdotes of business, non-profits, governments and individuals co-operating and swinging into action like never before. This immediate and broad-based engagement conveys a clear and unequivocal message: We are in this together and we will get through this together.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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