Vital People: Cool Aid Society fundraisers help to make a difference


Sandy Merriman House is an emergency shelter for women run by the Victoria Cool Aid Society that houses about 25 women at any given time.

“We unfortunately can’t shelter everybody who needs it, but we do what we can, but especially at this time of year when it’s really cold and wet outside demand rises,” says Lori Angelini of the Victoria Cool Aid Society.

And with more people struggling as food and housing costs skyrocket, demand for help is growing.

“What we’re seeing right now is really the impacts of the economy and inflation and we’re all feeling it but especially those on very low income, you can imagine how much they’re struggling,” Angelini says.

But the Nomad Holiday Market, a collection of artists and makers from all over Vancouver Island and the mainland that will be at the Songhees Wellness Centre November 11-13, is hoping to help.

“We’ll be collecting money at the door and collecting food at the door,” says the Nomad Holiday Market’s Joseph Gonyeau. “In past years, we’ve tried to fill up a rail car and this year we’re trying to fill up a van and the idea is to bring in non-perishable goods. Some people don’t have kitchens to cook in so stuff they can put in a microwave is super great.”

And that’s not the only Cool Aid fundraiser this month. The non-profit is once again holding it’s 10,000 socks campaign to help those in need.

“We’re able to obtain socks at cost for $1 a pair and get free shipping so we’re asking the community to donate 10,000 so we can buy 10,000 socks and these won’t just be distributed with Cool Aid,” Angelini explains. “We share with other agencies so we can reach as many people as possible.”

The sock drive runs until the end of the month and KIA Victoria is matching the first $5,000 in donations.

“I’m lucky because I can see the impact every day when I visit places like Sandy Merriman House or our seniors facilities or our buildings and I see the dedicated, caring staff helping people who really need it, it just makes me feel good,” Angelini says.

For Gonyeau and others who are helping, the reason they do it is simple.

“It makes the heart feel good,” Gonyeau says. “It’s a really good time of the year where people think about other people and I think if I have the ability to attract a lot of people to an area, why not collections donations, why not collect money, why not help artists, why not help people who need help and that’s what Christmas is about to me.”

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