Thanks to our readers for helping those in need

Dave ObeeWhen there is need, our readers step forward. There might be no better proof than our annual Christmas Fund campaign, which raised almost $306,000 over the past few weeks.

Every donation counts, as Philip Winterbottom knows. That’s why he sent $17.60 to the fund.

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“When my cousin from Scotland returned home from her Victoria visit, she found a handful of Canadian coins at the bottom of her suitcase,” Winterbottom wrote in a note accompanying his gift.

“She mailed the coins back to me requesting that I contribute them to a charity donation box.”

Winterbottom said the coins were worth $7.60 and it cost his cousin more than that to mail them.

He added $10 to the donation and sent it in, meaning another $17.60 went to help those in need.

The Christmas Fund has a long tradition of helping the community. It was started at 1956 by the Daily Colonist as the 500 Fund, named for the number of families it was designed to serve.

Greater Victoria has grown substantially since 1956, and the need has grown as well.

Through all the years, our fund has really been your fund — a vehicle that allows our readers to help others.

Every Christmas season, thousands of people work together to help the less fortunate. Some people volunteer their time, while others give money, as individuals or through groups.

Some donors were once recipients; they are giving back because they know how difficult life can be. And remember that many people don’t have a safety net; they could be a job loss or an injury away from needing a helping hand.

The people in need in Greater Victoria are your neighbours and your friends. They are people who have fallen on hard times for whatever reason.

Thanks to you, our dedicated readers, we raised $305,950.48, money that goes to help those less fortunate during the holiday season.

The money came in 1,629 donations, large and small, and every one of them is important.

The largest donation was $10,000, and the donor has asked to remain anonymous. The smallest donation was $10. Every penny counts.

The Christmas Fund helps to provide hampers for those who are less fortunate. Again this season, we worked directly with the Salvation Army and the Mustard Seed, providing the resources so they could increase their capacities and help many more people than ever before. We also provided support for Christmas activities at Our Place.

Beyond that, the Christmas Fund sponsored the Mustard Seed’s annual Christmas dinner. Hundreds of people went to the Bay Street Armoury for a healthy meal.

It is an event that reminds us what the Christmas season is all about.

For many of our readers, the Times Colonist Christmas Fund is as much a tradition of the season as a tree, a turkey or pudding. A gift to the fund embodies the spirit of Christmas, since it is a chance to help strangers, for no personal gain. A gift to a stranger is often the best gift that we can give.

Good things happen when people work together. That has been the story of the fund itself, for more than six decades.

Once again, we say thanks, as we have every Christmas season since 1956.

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