Roger Junker and Dave Alexander, Pandora and Tillicum store managers respectively, delivered groceries to Jeneece Place on behalf of the eight Save-On-Foods stores in Greater Victoria. (Courtesy of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island)

Roger Junker and Dave Alexander, Pandora and Tillicum store managers respectively, delivered groceries to Jeneece Place on behalf of the eight Save-On-Foods stores in Greater Victoria. (Courtesy of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island)

Vancouver Island rallies for Jeneece Place during Christmas season

Christmas lights, grocery donations come in during difficult year

Greater Victoria’s Jeneece Place has had to make adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the ‘family home away from home’ is just happy its been able to stay open.

With enhanced cleaning protocols and capacity reduced from 10 to seven bedrooms, the house has continued to provide a place for families to stay while receiving medical care in Victoria.

“The heightened awareness at the hospital is what we had to mirror at Jeneece Place,” said Veronica Carroll, CEO of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. “There were certainly a lot of things we had to consider right from the get-go.”

Jeneece Place has had to operate without volunteers, who Carroll says are an important piece of the equation. And of course, physical donations – which often come in around Christmas in the form of baked goods, quilts, books and other items – can’t be accepted this year.

READ ALSO: Jeneece Place receives bags of holiday gifts from Save-On-Foods

But the community is still finding ways to help out. Adrian and Tracey D’Silva, two Vancouver Island donors, came by to install an 8,000-bulb light display – marking the ninth annual holiday light up at the house.

The lights are a culmination of community effort, with funding from local families and lights donated by Canadian Tire.

The D’Silvas have been decorating the house since it opened in 2012.

On Dec. 10, Save-On-Foods from across Greater Victoria dropped off $1,000-worth of groceries and $600-worth of gift cards.

“Families staying at Jeneece place are often experiencing some of the most stressful times of their lives, and this year the anxiety has ramped up with financial uncertainty, isolation, and fear of infection,” Carroll said. “This generous contribution by Save-On-Foods allows families to utilize food in the pantry to make their own meals between hospital visits, so they don’t have to worry about grocery shopping and can instead focus on their child’s health.”

For now, Jeneece Place, which has welcomed more than 2,000 families since opening, is looking to the future.

“We know that when we get back to full capacity that all of those Island families will be supported.”

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