In order to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas this year, local charities are calling on Victorians to open their wallets, if they haven’t already.
During the past few days, the Mustard Seed has distributed 1,200 hampers that include a turkey, produce and an abundance of non-perishable goods. Three-hundred of those are for families.
Thanks to food donations year round, the shelves at the Mustard Seed are looking rather healthy these days. It’s the financial goal of reaching $1 million before the new year that needs some attention.
According to Allan Lingwood, interim executive director for the Mustard Seed, approximately $500,000 has been raised thus far that will go towards a number of programs. Lingwood is confident Victorians will come through with the remaining $500,000 during the final stretch of the holiday season, but can’t help but feel a bit nervous.
“The nervousness is the local international appeals this particular year are much stronger than last year. Every year there is more charities locally that are sprouting up as well,” said Lingwood.
Each month, the Mustard Seed impacts 5,000 people, including 750 to 1,000 families in Victoria. The numbers have been consistent throughout the last six years.
“The reality is all these needs exist and we live in a fairly affluent community. It’s up to us to really step up to the plate and support. It would be a real shame not to see our neighbours supported in abundance.”
Over at the CFAX Santa’s Anonymous campaign, hundreds of volunteers are getting set to deliver 1,500 hampers and gifts this weekend.
On Oct. 1, a call was put out to less fortunate families, asking what their children wanted for Christmas. Now more than 3,000 children will receive two gifts and stocking stuffers thanks to numerous events, including the annual Tree of Wishes campaign in local shopping centres.
Every year, Santa’s Anonymous decorates Christmas trees with Santa Bear requests (cards asking for donations for specific gifts) urging residents to buy a present for one of their less fortunate neighbours.
In its 38 years of operation, the program has ballooned to serve 1,500 families every year with the help of 400 volunteers. Last year, volunteers put in more than 10,000 hours between the workshop, warehouse and efforts at local malls. This year the workshop handled more than 8,000 presents. Seventy-five spin tops made by members of the Island Woodturners Guild were donated on Wednesday.
Despite a growth in need, executive director Christine Hewitt said the organization hasn’t had any problem reaching its goal.
“The donors in our community are stellar people…we’ve never doubted our community,” said Hewitt, noting many of the volunteers are families. “There’s a lot of working poor, people just on the edge of poverty…the need seems to keep growing.”
The Salvation Army is now in the midst of its Christmas kettle campaign, which has a goal of raising $4 million province-wide by Christmas Eve. So far, the organization has collected $1.7 million from its 400 kettles scattered throughout B.C. — 25 of which are located in Victoria. Locally, more than 1,500 toys were collected this week through Christmas concerts by the Naden Band.
In addition to the kettles, the public can make donations online at fillthekettle.com, to a charity of their choice, or create their own online kettle campaign. The Salvation Army is now in its 150th year.