Monday, July 22, 2024

11 ways Victorians can help donate to people in need over the holidays

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This time of year many of us are starting our search for the perfect gifts for our loved ones. 

For those living throughout Vancouver Island that are struggling to make ends meet, having the freedom to purchase Christmas gifts is not an option.

The unfortunate reality is that many families across Vancouver island will be going hungry this time of year. As one in 11 families in the Greater Victoria Region are considered low-income—and, alarmingly, over 14% of all local children currently live in poverty.

As you spend on a big ticket item, many local charities throughout greater Victoria are in need of donations to help residents and families struggling to put food on the table. 

Here are several great charities in Greater Victoria you can help donate food and warm clothing to those in need:

The Mustard Seed 

The Mustard Seed Street Church has helped fight hunger and restore faith to people living in harsh conditions in greater Victoria since 1975.

The Mustard Seed accepts food, clothing and Christmas hamper donations. 

  • Where: The Mustard Seed, 625 Queens Avenue
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Food bank hours are Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Victoria Community Fridge 

The fridge operates on a “take what you need, leave what you can” basis, as an exciting way to strengthen the community. 

Everyone is welcome to take whatever they need from the fridge, whenever. 

The fridge is open 24/7 and directly accessible from the sidewalk.

Acceptable donations to the community fridge and pantry items include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Unopened or bulk dry goods (pasta, rice, legumes, baking supplies)
  • Sealed hygiene items (diapers, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, tampons, pads, and soaps)
  • Sealed pet food, and snacks (granola bars, crackers, etc.)

Accepted products with labelled expiry dates:

  • Bread and pastries
  • Fresh eggs
  • Dairy products or alternatives
  • Soy products and meat alternatives

What the community fridge does not accept:

  • Open or used items
  • Raw meat or seafood
  • Opened or half-eaten food (unless individually packaged)
  • Alcohol
  • Mouldy or seriously damaged bread or produce
  • Frozen food
  • Leftovers or premade meals*
  • Where: Victoria Community Fridge, 2725 Rock Bay Avenue
  • When: Open 24/7

The Rainbow Kitchen

Founded in 2010, Rainbow Kitchen is a family-friendly community kitchen that specializes in providing delicious meals and connecting the community to resources. 

Everyone is welcome, no questions asked.

If you or someone you know needs food, Rainbow Kitchen can help. With a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, Rainbow Kitchen serves 10,000 meals every month.

The Rainbow Kitchen accepts pasta, rice, tomatoes, beans, canned vegetables, toiletries, cooking oils/sprays, coffees and teas, flour and sugar on a regular basis.

For those looking to donate fresh food products, the Rainbow Kitchen encourages people to contact them before dropping off items.

  • Where: Victoria Rainbow Kitchen, 500 Admirals Road 
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Sandy Merriman House

Sandy Merriman provides emergency shelter for 25 women who are homeless. We welcome trans women, gender fluid and non-binary people.

Due to staff shortages and limited space, the staff at the Merriman House are only able to receive donations on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

After the New Year donations will go back to being accepted on a daily basis.

  • Where: Sandy Merriman House, 809 Burdett Avenue
  • When: Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank 

The Lions Food Bank accepts a variety of food donations and food hampers. 

December donation hours include Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food hamper donations can be accepted Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

  • Where: Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank, 9586 Fifth Street
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Anawim House

The Anawim house is a drop-in and transition house for the homeless and those living on the margins in Victoria.

The Anawim House is able to accept donations of perishable as well as non-perishable food items. Dry food goods as well as maintenance supplies are also gratefully accepted. 

If you have any questions about donations, please contact House Director Terry Edison Brown at (250) 382-0283 or e-mail info@anawimhouse.com.

  • Where: Anawim House, 973 Caledonia Avenue
  • When: Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. With the exception of Wednesdays. 

The Soup Kitchen

The Soup Kitchen is staffed by volunteers and funded by community donations, for 40 years the Soup Kitchen has fed those in need.

The kitchen’s brown bagged meals are given out to over 30,000 diners annually. For many, this is their only meal of the day.

The Soup Kitchen gladly accepts sealed and fresh food donations, warm clothes and personal care products. Those donating are encouraged to call 778-440-7687 if you have any questions.

  • Where: The Soup Kitchen, 740 View Street
  • When: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Our Place Society

Our Place Society has grown from a unique inner-city community centre to nine locations serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable, including people struggling with homelessness, mental health challenges, substance use issues, the working poor, and the impoverished elderly.

From community meals that rely on public donations, to Christmas gifts and warm clothing these are 13 ways our place society accepts donations from the public.

  • Where: Our Place Society, 919 Pandora Avenue
  • When: Monday to Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (food bank)

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul seeks, in a spirit of justice and charity, helps those who are poor, in need, or living with disabilities.

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul accepts anything from food donations, clothes, household items, electronics including TV’s and game consoles, to furniture, antique merchandise, and hundred-year-old literature!

All donations are now being accepted at the societies, 1010 Craflower Road, Esquimalt and 2784 Claude Road, Langford locations. 

  • Where: 
    • Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, 1010 Craigflower Road
      • Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
    • Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, 2784 Claude Road
      • Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Living Edge

After moving to Victoria from South Africa in 2011, Pastor Neil noticed a lot of people in downtown Victoria were in need of food.

In an effort to support the community, Neil began gathering food once a week from grocery stores to hand it out to people from the trunk of his car.

Years later, his efforts have now formed Living Edge, a Victoria-based charity that is dependent on funding from individuals, groups, businesses, and churches. 

The Living Edge’s focus is providing fresh food – not just canned goods – to local residents.

Living Edge accepts donations of surplus food from businesses and paid donations from the public. 

Donations to Living Edge go directly to pay the expenses of operating their programs.

  • Where: Living Edge, 510 Constance Avenue
  • When:  The following donation drop-off locations include:
    • Monday 2:30-3:45 p.m. UVic Family Circle – 2375 Lam Circle
    • Monday 5- 6 p.m. Central Baptist Church – 833 Pandora Ave., Victoria
    • Tuesday 4:30-6 p.m. Gateway Baptist Church – 898 Royal Oak Ave., Victoria
    • Thursday 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Quadra Village Community Centre – 901 Kings Rd., Victoria
    • Thursday 5:30-6:30 p.m. Saanich Baptist Church – 7577 Wallace Dr., Victoria
    • Friday 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Open Gate Church – 679 Goldstream Ave., Langford
    • Saturday 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Harbourview Church – 511 Constance Ave., Esquimalt

BC SPCA Victoria Pet Food Bank Program

The Victoria BC SPCA has a pet food bank- it’s free, confidential, and judgment-free. We don’t ask for identifying information.

Folks can take what they need: pet food, treats, and an assortment of other gently used items like leashes, litter pans, dog bowls, etc.

If you are interested in supporting the Victoria BC SPCA Pet Food Bank program, the initiative accepts donations of unopened pet food and treats, gently used items, beds and carriers! 

Drop-off is available at reception during reception hours Tuesday to Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Where: Victoria BC SPCA, 3150 Napier Lane
  • When: Every Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

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