The pandemic thwarted plans for mass gatherings like the Santa’s Light Parade and the Island Equipment Owners Association (IOEA) Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive, but the spirit behind those popular Greater Victoria community events remains.
The organizers of both teamed up to coordinate a way for the public to continue donating cash, non-perishable food items and new unwrapped toys for families in need, starting with a series of drive-thru donation dropoffs this Saturday (Nov. 28).
Light Up the City, on through Jan. 3, offers multiple options for supporting the Rainbow Kitchen in Esquimalt, the Goldstream Food Bank on the West Shore, the Mustard Seed Street Church and the Salvation Army Victoria Citadel.
Kelly Kurta, executive director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society, said she and IOEA’s Wendy Watt have had many conversations with Island Health to ensure the dropoff format follows public health orders around COVID-19. Kurta said her “stomach was in knots” until they got the green light Wednesday from the health authority.
“Food banks and toy drives are essential services, and this year, more than ever, we need them,” she said.
While Christmas charity fundraisers are common in Victoria, there are many untold stories of families hard hit by COVID, Kurta said. “We want to bring joy back to their faces and happiness back into people’s hearts.”
Given the cancellation of gatherings, the entertainment planned for Light Up the City is on hold until at least Dec. 7, Kurta said, noting they even had a Plexiglas sheet custom made to separate performers and attendees.
On the bright side, a new Christmas lighting competition kicks off Dec. 1 for entries in five separate categories: homes, apartment/condos, local businesses, community organizations and First Nations communities. The five winners receive a prize worth more than $1,000 and 15 prizes in all are up for grabs. Entrants must email photos of their displays, along with their street address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Light Up the City map to view displays from the safety of your vehicle will be created as entries come in. Watch the festival’s Facebook page for details.
Find a list of locations open in December at gvfs.ca/drop-off-your-donation/.