Ship’s crew proves charity begins at home

Vic West elementary launching breakfast program thanks to naval generosity

Among the 250 members on board HMCS Vancouver, currently off the coast of Libya, there are a lot of stubbly-faced men.

Avoiding their daily shaving obligation is a privilege that comes with a price: a donation to the ship’s favourite charity.

At first women on board didn’t have an equivalent opportunity for breaking the grooming rules, said navy Lt. Matthew Mitchell, who led this year’s charitable campaign. 

Now, that’s been rectified. For a donation, women win the right to paint their nails.

There have also been hot dog sales and other fundraisers. In total, they’ve raised more than enough to launch a breakfast program at Vic West elementary school. 

Mitchell learned how big the need is for breakfast programs through his fiancée, who is a teacher in the area. 

“It surprised me, because we’re such an affluent society,” he said, calling from a phone onboard the ship. 

The Greater Victoria school district helped out by pinpointing a worthy recipient school. 

“It’s touching that they would consider people in their community who are at-risk, because we would consider the ones in the military to be the ones at risk,” said Joe Cardle, principal of Vic West elementary. 

“You have these people who are serving overseas, away from their families, yet the activities they’re involved in reminds them of why they are doing this and the people they’re supporting.”

HMCS Vancouver left for the Mediterranean Sea in July. 

“Its a morale thing,” explained Mitchell, of their efforts. “It helps us stay connected to home.”

rholmen@vicnews.com