Vital People: Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary’s poinsettias for patients campaign

WatchThey're holiday decorations that can make a difference! In this week's Vital People, Tess van Straaten tells us about the Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary's poinsettias for patients campaign.

This year’s crop of Vancouver Island-grown poinsettias at Hilltop Greenhouses in Saanich is looking good.

“They’re looking great,” says Calvin Stevenson of Hilltop Greenhouses. “Right now they’re still growing but in a few weeks they’ll be so dark and colourful they’ll bring a lot of cheer to everybody.”

Hundreds of the 70,000 poinsettias they’re growing this year are being sold by the Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary in its annual ‘Poinsettias for Patients’ campaign.

“The goal of the auxiliary is to raise money for things in the hospital, for amenities and equipment for the hospital,” explains Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary volunteer Val Smith.

The VGH Auxiliary, which operates the hospital gift shop and is completely run by volunteers, has raised a staggering $3.5 million dollars since the hospital opened for medical equipment and amenities like free public wifi and the rooftop Oasis.

“I’ve worked in a hospital and I know how hard it is to find money for these things,” says Victoria General Hospital Auxiliary president Margot Hogg.

Margot, a retired nurse, has volunteered with the Auxiliary for 15 years and has seen first-hand how COVID has put an even bigger strain on the health care system.

“Costs have gone up and a lot of hospitals are really struggling to find the money to do the things they need to do,” Margot says.

This year’s poinsettia campaign — which hopes to raise more than $10,000 — will be used for a new KidKave in the Victoria General Hospital emergency waiting room.

“You’ve got all these children who are bored silly but also we tried to make a point of making sure it was the least frighting area it could be,” Margot says.

Hilltop gives the poinsettias, which come in different colours and sizes, to charities at a reduced cost for fundraisers — something this local business has been doing for 25 years.

“During these times it’s been very tough,” Calvin says. “I think it’s nice to see that Hilltop is able to support some of these fundraisers. Last year wasn’t the best year. A lot of people struggled.”

For Val and Margot, their reasons for giving back are simple.

“I was brought up that I’m very fortunate to have what I have, and I have a responsibility to give back because I’m so fortunate,” Margot explains.

“What do you get out of giving back? I guess when you see what a difference it makes,” adds Val.

The deadline for ordering these Christmas decorations that matter is November 16th with plant pick up and delivery at the end of the month.

You can order online at this link or email [email protected] or call 250-598-3385.

You can also become an ER Santa with a $20 donation to decorate emergency with poinsettias that front line workers and security staff get to take home for Christmas.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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