Victoria’s annual Santa’s Light Parade would have kicked off tonight, but it’s cancelled because of the pandemic.
“It was an incredibly hard decision,” said Kelly Kurta, the executive director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society. “It’s the first time in almost 40 years that we had to cancel the parade.”
But Kurta said they needed to keep the spirit of Christmas alive. She spoke to the organizers of the annual Truck Light Convoy, and together, they came up with a plan.
“We knew how important it was to raise funds, non-perishables and toys for those that need it — it is every year — but this year [with] COVID, 2020 has been horrible,” Kurta said. “Our food and toy banks, they need us this year. They’re essential services and now more than ever we have to help them.”
So they came up with the 5-week Light up the City campaign. It kicked off today at the Bay Centre, the same day the Santa parade would have happened. Every Saturday until Jan. 3, people will be able to drop off non-perishable food, new toys and cash donations for local food banks at different locations.
The full schedule is posted on the GVFS’ Facebook page.
The organizers of the parades aren’t the only ones finding creative ways to give back during these difficult times.
The annual Gingerbread Showcase has moved to the windows of local businesses in Victoria and Sidney, with the Habitat of Humanity asking people to vote and donate online.
At London Drugs across the province, there are Christmas trees full of wishes. The Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program allows customers to buy gifts for seniors in local care homes who may not otherwise receive holiday gifts.
Customers just have to take a gift tag from the store’s Christmas tree. Written on it will be a local senior’s wish list, with a few small items like slippers or socks. Customers can purchase those items and then drop them off at the customer service desk.
Although long-standing traditions like the Santa’s parade are cancelled this year, the spirit of giving will continue just the same.