Whether it’s breaking bread or buying it, few things have the innate ability to connect people and communities like the promise of a good meal.
But for many living in the Capital Region, these meals cannot always be promised.
It’s within this spirit of community and connectivity that the Victoria Cool Aid Society is hoping, through donations, to bolster the society’s grocery gift card program, providing cards to more people in need.
The grocery gift card program is simple, yet its impacts are profound. Through donations of $25 increments, donors can support the bulk purchase of these much-needed gift cards so that Cool Aid team members can provide them to clients. Beyond food, clients are also able to purchase hygiene products or other essentials.
“It’s a very powerful and simple act to be able to go to the grocery store and buy your own food, and especially with food prices going up, it’s something our clients always need,” explains Mary Lee Crocker, Cool Aid’s director of philanthropy and community engagement.
For more than a half century, the society’s reach has stretched across a myriad of life-changing services for people impacted by poverty, colonization, stigma, mental health and homelessness.
The society’s services include connections to permanent housing, emergency shelter, health and dental care, employment assistance, and social and recreational opportunities.
The theme of connection serves as the heartbeat of the grocery card program, as the society’s Community Health Centre also uses them to connect with, or check in on, people in housing facilities, shelters and on the streets. The cards further help to build an invaluable rapport with those who may be distrustful of the healthcare system or have had negative experiences with accessing those services.
In addition, the program also supports clients with specific dietary needs and provides food to Cool Aid buildings that don’t have food service.
“Offering these cards really does help with program retention. They help us get to know clients better and build trust,” Crocker says.
Beyond building those vital connections, the gift cards also have tangible benefits, like helping clients become invested in their overall well-being, and the cards serve as a springboard for life skills like learning to cook and preparing meals.
By giving to Cool Aid, donors help ensure that the society’s dedicated workers have the resources they need to help marginalized people in Greater Victoria. Donor gifts also help provide healthcare, skill-building programs, employment training and healthy recreation, ensuring people living on low incomes have ongoing opportunities for connection and community.
“Each opportunity we have to make a caring and trusting connection can make a world of difference to someone who has been marginalized and mistreated,” Crocker says. “The grocery gift card program is a huge part of making those valued connections, and the people who donate to the program are a vital part of that equation.”
To donate to the society, visit coolaid.org/ways-to-help/buy-a-giftcard.