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Fitness fundraiser in Victoria aims to provide new shoes and back-to-school kits for kids in need

This June, walk, run, or hike in The Mustard Seed's Souls for Soles Challenge to support families in the Greater Victoria region
Funds raised from the Souls for Soles Challenge will support the purchase of good quality shoes and school supplies for children across Greater Victoria.

Come fall, at least 600 Greater Victoria kids will be sporting new sneakers and packs filled with back-to-school supplies, plus healthy snacks.

This is all thanks to participants in the Souls for Soles Challenge, who set out to walk, run or hike 200K throughout the month of June. Challenge participants will track their progress and aim to raise $200 each for The Mustard Seed Street Church’s Fair Start for Kids Back-to-School program.

This peer-to-peer fundraising event is perfectly suited for individuals who like a challenge or teams that want to make a difference together for families of lesser means.

"Two hundred dollars is the amount needed to purchase good quality new shoes, grade appropriate school supplies, plus a $25 gift card for school snacks," says Colleen Sparks, director of development for The Mustard Seed.

"We also provide some new donated clothing, and families can visit our food bank if needed."

The Mustard Seed has become an essential part of reducing poverty and community transformation for the Greater Victoria region over the course of nearly 50 years. This non-profit supports people experiencing food insecurity and sets kids and families up for success with their Fair Start for Kids program, operating for more than 20 years.

"Giving kids the right supplies and new good quality shoes helps reduce the stigma faced by families struggling to make ends meet," says Sparks.

In an economy of belt-tightening times, school supply costs continue to increase; according to StatsCAN Plus, B.C. parents were paying 12.9% more last year than in 2022 for stationery supplies for their children.

"People across all spectrums are needing support through The Mustard Seed more than ever before," reveals Sparks. "We know many kids would go without new shoes and supplies if they weren't able to partake in something like the Fair Start for Kids program." 

Sasha Skolsky pictured with her two sons, Kai and Bowen. Photo via: The Mustard Seed

Making an invaluable impact

Saanich's Sasha Skolsky, a part-time middle school teacher and single mother of two boys, Kai 8, and Bowen 7, will be signing up this year for the Fair Start for Kids program.

Skolsky knows the pressure of trying to get by after her husband incurred some mental health challenges and went into care for three months, followed by the COVID pandemic.

"I spent my entire savings and haven’t been able to get ahead since," she reveals.

"My boys burn through their shoes about every three-to-six-months because they play so hard, and they grow so quick. I buy second-hand shoes because I can't afford new ones."

"This program is such a relief and certainly will aid in reducing the stress of back-to-school costs," Skolsky adds. "Groceries, household bills, extra-curricular activities; it feels overwhelming most days." 

Despite their hardships, she says, "We are happy and healthy, and I'm filled with gratitude."

"The Mustard Seed really makes a difference in many families' lives, without judgement and with compassion."  

Help families like the Skolskys start the school year off with pride. Photo via: The Mustard Seed

How to participate

Registration for the Souls for Soles Challenge is open now, and participants and their sponsors can donate directly online.

Get involved, have fun, and make it a friendly competition with your family, friends, neighbours, coworkers, and even your school group. Costumes and creative team names are encouraged, and people who pledge $20-plus will receive a tax receipt.

"By joining the Souls for Soles Challenge and raising $200, you help families like Sasha and her boys start the school year off with pride," says Sparks. "Every child deserves a fair start."

For more information or to register for Souls for Soles or Fair Start for Kids program, visit