In a year like no other, the need is greater than ever. That is why the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, which is being launched today, matters so much to the entire community.
The fund is a Victoria tradition, part of our shared history since 1956. Over the years it has helped hundreds of thousands of people in need, people who would have miserable Christmas seasons without help from our readers.
COVID-19 has hammered whole sectors of the economy. Local service agencies have been dealing with an increased demand for aid since the pandemic was declared in March, and still, every week, more people approach those agencies for the first time.
These might not be the people you think of when conjuring up an image of “the poor.” They include your friends and neighbours, the people you or your children knew in school, in places of faith or on the soccer field. They are people who are used to helping others, not asking for help. As a community, we must come together, once again, to give them food, and help, and hope.
The idea behind our Christmas fund is simple: We ask our readers to donate money to help the less fortunate. Then we distribute those funds to local agencies, the ones that work with the needy every day of the year and are best positioned to determine who needs help the most.
We are working again this year with the Salvation Army and the Mustard Seed Street Church, which handle the distribution of hampers and gift certificates.
Our fund also covers the cost of the Mustard Seed’s annual Christmas dinner at the Bay Street Armoury, which will provide a warm meal to more than 1,000 people.
The COVID-19 pandemic means we have had to reduce some of our fundraising efforts this year; for example, it will not be possible to drop money into boxes in local stores.
That just means we need to find other ways to raise that money. We can’t let the pandemic deter us from the work that is essential to the well-being of our community.
Last year, our Christmas fund raised $350,000, and we need to bring in more — much more – this year. We have already contributed $100,000 to the Rapid Relief Fund, which was created to meet the sudden demand for help in the spring.
You will be reading more about our Christmas fundraising effort in the next few weeks. Our message might seem repetitive at times, but please don’t ignore it, and please remember what life is like for those struggling to get by.
The true spirit of Christmas is in what we can give to others, especially people we do not know. In 2020, that spirit matters like never before.
Thank again to everyone for your generosity. It is needed, and it is appreciated.
HOW TO DONATE
Go to timescolonist.com/donate. That takes you to the Canada Helps website, which is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.
Or, if you prefer, mail a cheque, payable to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund Society, to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 201-655 Tyee Road, Victoria V9A 6X5.
Or use your credit card by phoning 250-995-4438 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, messages will be accepted.