From the latke lunches and dreidel competitions sponsored by a local synagogue, to the 850 personalized “angel gifts” donated by local churches, schools, businesses and community groups, the season of giving is alive at Our Place.
Donations are flowing in the month of December, says community relations co-ordinator Tracy Campbell. There are meals booked for the whole next month, she says, that will help the poor, homeless and other vulnerable people in Victoria.
“So many people want to give of themselves during the holiday season,” she says. “All of us … feel sentimental. It brings back memories.”
But the season of giving never really stops for many volunteers in downtown Victoria. Some 200 regular monthly volunteers cut vegetables, sort through donations, clean showers, hand out food and donate time and skill sets at Our Place.
Pixie MacCallum, Pat Larre and Steve Dull, who come from distinctly different backgrounds, chop vegetables and serve lunch every Friday. For them, volunteering is part of their belief systems and ethics.
“As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing in life is to be able to serve others,” says MacCallum, who is Baha’i.
Larre, a Christian, says about helping others, that “if you want to follow Jesus’ path, that’s part of what you do.”
Steve Dull, a humanist and Marxist, says for him, it’s not so much about the feeling of giving back, but that he recognizes a need and has the time to help.
Lorreen Valan is someone who utilizes these services, but also provides them, serving meals and setting tables.
“I just felt like helping people out, it makes me feel good,” she says.
Our Place is always looking for new volunteers to help out with its various services for the street community and meal provision for those in need. If you’d like to be a part of their crew, stop by 919 Pandora Ave., email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ourplacesociety.com and find opportunities under the Get Involved heading.