In 1968, concerned community groups called upon the Society of Organized Services to coordinate a Christmas program to help the less fortunate throughout District 69.
Forty-four years later, SOS continues to offer this support to local residents, and it continues with the Toy Drive Breakfast at Tigh-Na-Mara Nov. 28.
The NEWS asked SOS some questions recently about what they do and who they serve:
Q. Who are these individuals seeking help?
A. Those down on their luck, unemployed, struck by illness, hit by sudden financial burden, or loss. With the costs of food, rent, and gas skyrocketing, more and more people find it impossible to make ends meet, let alone afford more than the very basic necessities. While many struggle through silently, even the very proud will reach out for help at this time of year. Nobody wants to see a child go without a Christmas, or a neighbour face the day alone.
Q. Where do all the toys collected on the Toy Drive go?
A. SOS has a goal to see that none are forgotten at Christmas. Each year, hundreds from the surrounding communities visit the SOS Toy Shop to hand-pick gifts for their children. Great effort is made to respect the dignity of all visitors. A lovely reception room is decorated, and baked treats and beverages are offered to all as they wait to choose their gifts.
Q. What about adults?
A. While children are the focus of attention, SOS is aware that this can be a very lonely time of year for many adults. Treat-filled Christmas stockings are delivered to those without close friends or family. These stockings are the only bit of Christmas many receive, and they are accepted with great joy and appreciation. Caring is a priceless gift to those who feel they are alone in the world.
Q. How bout some numbers?
A. Last year, thousands of gifts were gathered and more than $102,000 in cash donations were received from the community. All of this and more was used to help more than 2,000 local residents have a happy Christmas. Each year, the number of individuals seeking help at Christmas rises. This year should be no exception. With the hope that all who come will receive help, SOS has set a goal of $110,000 for the Caring for Kids at Christmas program.
The need is great, but SOS has faith in the compassion of our local communities. Once again, SOS is very proud to represent communities from Nanoose to Bowser, and Errington to Lasqueti, who step up to take care of their own. May this year be another Merry Christmas for all.