The season of giving is in the air, Victoria!
In spirit of the holidays, it’s important to remember that connection, togetherness, and generosity towards those in need is what it’s all about.
Receiving gifts is wonderful, but giving to others is the ultimate thing we can do to give back to the community!
Whether it’s shopping local, donating to a toy drive, or volunteering your time at a soup kitchen, these all make a considerable difference to a person in need.
To make sifting through options a little easier, we’ve created a list detailing how you can give back and where if you’ve got the time or resources to spare.
Here’s a list of ways to give back this holiday season:
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or leave a donation
There are plenty of soup kitchens in and around Victoria that depend on community support to stay afloat—whether that’s through volunteer hours or donation, every bit helps.
If you’re looking for ways to give back to your community, a soup kitchen is a great place to start and you’ll feel good knowing you’ve supplied someone in need with a fresh and delicious meal.
Here’s 3 soup kitchens in and around Victoria:
This location on View Street has been around for over 40 years and serve out over 30,000 meals each year.
- Where: 740 View Street
- When: Volunteers usually work one morning a week, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10:30 am. Monday to Friday
In 2010, the Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society was established as a registered Society & Charitable Organization and has since become a true hub for food security programming in the Capital Regional District!
They work hard to help those in need, including serving over 120,000 meals every year and over 10,000 pounds of food rescued from being pre-maturely thrown out each month.
- Where: 500 Admirals Road
- When: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This warm and welcoming location is happily providing food to over 2000 low-income individuals in the area with access to fresh food, resources, and support.
Monetary donations is the quickest and best way to ensure the team have everything they need in order to continue supporting those who need it most.
But they also recommend hosting your own food drive, organizing a fundraiser or volunteering your time if you’re looking for ways to get back.
- Where: 101-3787 Cedar Hill Road (entrance off of Cedar Hill Cross Road)
- When: Hours vary
Leave a toy or two at several different drives happening
Everyone knows that Christmas is expensive, and for some, impossibly so. The expectations to make a child’s Christmas is even greater, and some parents or guardians don’t want the added financial weight.
In order to make life easier on families in need, toy drives pop up all over the city and it couldn’t be easier to get involved.
Just make sure the toys you bring in are new and unwrapped.
Here’s 4 toy drives to participate in this holiday season:
This year marks Virgin’s fifth Toy Mountain which seeks to amass as many gifts for all ages as humanly possible within the confines of the former Good Earth Uptown location.
They will be there until Friday, December 1st and are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and welcomes donors into the space to add their gifts to the already building mountain of toys.
Toy Mountain is especially in need of gifts for the 13 to 17-year-old range, as this is an age group they’re always short on. Even gift cards are great because it gives the receiver the power to shop for their own wants.
If you weren’t yet convinced to drop something off, on Friday, December 1st, anyone who drops off a gift, cash or a gift card, will receive a drink and a treat from Starbucks and Crust who will be set up in the roundabout in front of Best Buy.
- Where: The old Good Earth location at Uptown just a couple of doors down from Best Buy
- When: Open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. until December 1st (last day includes the Starbucks and Crust bonus)
Similar to Virgin’s Toy Mountain, The Zone will be setting up shop at the Mayfair Shopping Centre parking lot on December 8th from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. for a drive-thru-style toy drop-off.
Bring over what you can to support Victorians in need and make a huge difference for families on Christmas!
Leading up to their toy drive-thru event, they’re encouraging everyone to drop off toys to the following Peninsula Co-op locations up until December 6th:
- 4397 West Shore Parkway (Langford)
- 321 Wale Road (Colwood)
- 6429 Pat Bay Highway (Saanich)
- 10350 McDonald Park Road (Sidney)
- 6739 West Saanich Road (Brentwood)
- 2320 Millstream Rd (Millstream)
In partnership with Mustard Seed Street Church & Food Bank, LIDA Construction is collecting toys for children aged 6 to 16 up until December 12th at 4 p.m.!
Bring toys such as Barbie Dolls, Trains’ n’ Trucks, Nerf, Transformers, Star Wars, LEGO, Action figure, Shopkins, Hatchables, Cool Socks, Gloves and Scarves, and Board Games.
If you wish to contribute gift cards or movie vouchers, those will also be accepted!
- Where: LIDA Homes office, 6105 Patricia Bay Highway
- When: During office hours until December 12th at 4 p.m.
The Natural Hair Salon has partnered with Santas Anonymous for this holiday season and they’re hoping to get as many people involved as possible!
If you’re planning on visiting the salon anytime between now and December 22nd, bring a toy for kids in need.
Some gift ideas include Play-Doh, magnets, pencils, crayons, and coloring books!
- Where: Two locations, one at 616 View Street, the other at 313 Cook Street #3
- When: Anytime during salon hours until December 22nd
Supporting local businesses and creators
One of the best things about Victoria is the amount of incredible local businesses and creators that are available to us for all of our possible needs.
Anything you purchase is going directly to your community by supporting the artisans that keep the city of Victoria vibrant and creative.
The list you will find in the link below has been split up into three sections: local stores, local authors, and local restaurants for you to check out!
Anything from gift card-musts to specific items are included, and at the very least, you’ll find somewhere to start looking!
Drop off nonperishable goods at food drives
Plenty of the soup kitchens in Victoria also accept nonperishable or other accepted items, but we wanted to quickly highlight a few more.
There’s a specific food drive for the holiday season happening during The Q!’s morning show at Mayfair, as well as a couple others that allow you to drop off anytime.
Here’s 4 places you can donate food and other accepted products to:
The Q will be setting up shop in the Mayfair Shopping Centre parking lot on Friday, December 1st collecting food donations, cash and cheques for the several food banks throughout Greater Victoria.
They will be broadcasting their morning show from that location!
Stop and say hello and bring what you can.
- Where: Mayfair Shopping Centre’s Parking Lot, 3147 Douglas Street
- When: Friday, December 1st from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Mustard Seed is situated in Victoria’s downtown core and has become a well-known resource for those in need.
Their food bank provides 600,000 pounds of food, beverages and hygiene products to families and individuals—this is equivalent to an estimated 480,000 meals or over 1,300 meals per day.
Bring any nonperishable food items or other accepted items that you can spare to support your community this winter.
They will also be at the IEOA Truck Parade on Saturday, December 2nd accepting donations!
- Where: 625 Queens Avenue
- When: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.—some exceptions apply, just make sure to check ahead of your visit
The Victoria Community Fridge operates on a “take what you need, leave what you can” basis and is entirely supported by the community.
The is open 24/7 and is accessible from the sidewalk.
They accept items such as 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, soaps), sealed pet food, snacks (granola bars, crackers, etc.).
They don’t 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, or leftovers or premade meals (unless given exclusive permission to do so).
- Where: 2725 Rock Bay Avenue, the fridge is located at the corner of David street facing the Centennial United Church
- When: It’s open 24/7
Sandy Merriman provides emergency shelter for 25 women who are homeless. They also welcome people who are transgender and non-binary.
Donations to this house are always greatly appreciated and go directly towards vulnerable people looking for hygiene products, nutritious meals, and clothing.
If you would like to donate, you can drop off your items on Sundays and Wednesdays. They will go back to accepting donations daily in the New Year.
They accept financial donations 24/7 and that can be done through Cool Aid’s website, here.
- Where: 809 Burdett Avenue
- When: Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Help Stuff the Bus in Victoria
BC Transit is hosting a donation drive on Saturday December 2nd, at the Save-On-Foods in Tillicum Mall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers will collect non-perishable food items, new toys, and clothing, benefiting the Mustard Seed Food Bank and the Salvation Army.
This year, due to operational challenges, BC Transit is unable to partake in some traditional holiday events like the Santa Bus, which would impact bus services. However, they aim to resume these festivities in 2024, understanding their significance in bringing joy to customers and employees.
- Where: At the Save-On-Foods in Tillicum Mall
- When: Saturday, December 2nd from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
With files from Curtis Blandy