Kelly Kurta says she felt like she “won the lottery” when the Light Up the City campaign — which will collect toys, food and money for those in need this Christmas — was given the green light by public health officials to proceed.
After the pandemic forced the cancellation of both the 39th annual Santa Claus Parade and the 22nd annual Truck Light Convoy, the organizing teams behind the events came up with the idea for a five-week drive-through donation campaign to secure much-needed contributions for charities across the Island.
Each drop-off location was to have live music and Santa perched atop a lighted vehicle to entertain people as they dropped off items, but public health officials have advised organizers to use pre-recorded music instead of musicians.
All indoor and outdoor events, including parades, fundraisers, public light displays that attract crowds and photos with Santa, are suspended until Dec. 7 under an order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
The Light Up the City campaign is being organized by the Greater Victoria Festival Society and the Island Equipment Owners Association. An integral part of both parades was collecting non-perishable food items, unwrapped toys and cash donations.
“We care so much about making sure we raised food donations and toys, because we always do and we didn’t want to let that part go,” said Kurta, executive director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society.
Wendy Watt, manager of the Island Equipment Owners Association, said the need is larger than ever. “We’ve been trying to co-ordinate something that’s safe for the community to get out, so they’ll get a little taste of what we all love about the season, seeing Santa and some trucks and lights.”
Benefiting charities include the Mustard Seed Food Bank, Salvation Army, Charity Rainbow Kitchen and TLC Fund for Kids, Saanich Lions Club for the Salvation Army and the Campbell River Food Bank.
Anyone who can’t donate items by car is encouraged to donate $20 to one of the benefiting charities. Many food banks say cash donations help them buy in bulk and fill in gaps for food that’s needed most.
The campaign also includes a Christmas lighting competition that kicks off Dec. 1. Homes, apartments or condos, local businesses, community organizations and First Nation communities are encouraged to send an email with their address and a photo of their light display for a chance to win one of 15 prizes, some valued at more than $1,000, that have been donated by local companies.
The campaign launches Saturday at these drive-through and drop-off locations (people are asked to stay in their cars while volunteers collect donations from their vehicles):
• Westshore Town Center Cineplex parking lot, 5-7:30 p.m. Masks and gloves mandatory. Charity: Goldstream Food bank. Santa will be there to wave from a safe social distance.
• The Bay Centre lower guest services, 1-6 p.m. Masks mandatory. Charity: Mustard Seed Food Bank and CFAX Santa’s Anonymous
• Fan Tan Home and Style, 541 Fisgard St., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Houle Electric, 4240 Glanford Avenue, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Charity: Saanich Lions Club for Salvation Army
• Sunbelt Rentals, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., various locations including 2994 Jacklin Rd., Langford; 402 Garbally Rd., Victoria; 10115 McDonald Park Rd., Sidney.
> For a full list of donation locations, go to gvfs.ca.