John and Marilyn Longley sit with Christmas gift bags filled by the Qualicum Beach and Area Newcomers’ Club, to be delivered to local adults and seniors by SOS Volunteers through the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program.- Lissa Alexander photo

Christmas stocking program provides for Parksville Qualicum beach seniors in need

Delivery part of SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program

When you are alone at Christmas, and without any close friends or family, a kind face at your door with a gift-filled Christmas stocking is sure to warm your heart. That’s what a few of the local Newcomers’ clubs, and a group of volunteers from SOS are hoping.

“You know you’re making a difference and you’re doing it out of your own goodwill, knowing you’re making someone’s Christmas special, and that’s what Christmas is all about,” said Rosey Cowan, a volunteer with SOS.

The Christmas stocking delivery is part of the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program, a program that Cowan has been volunteering in for more than 20 years, among other roles at SOS. She has all sorts of wonderful stories about delivering stockings, where she has connected with people who were a bit standoffish at first, wondering how she got their name, and whether this was simply an act of kindness. After asking some questions, in her gentle, positive manner, Cowan would get them to open up a bit, and she said that made all the difference in the world. She has seen many of the same faces over the years, and it’s nice to check in with them, she said.

“I’ve been doing it for so long, that I’ve delivered to a lot of the same people over the years, and that’s become very delightful,” she said. “Because now they are looking forward to you, they are expecting you, you are a familiar face.”

SOS Volunteers deliver the Christmas stockings, or gift bags, to local adults and seniors who have been identified by SOS, community members or organizations as someone who could benefit from the program.

Local Newcomers’ Clubs fill the stockings or gift bags with small gifts, like books, cross-word puzzles, soaps and socks, and SOS volunteers deliver them around the community. The Clubs include Qualicum Beach Area Newcomers Alumni and Oceanside Newcomers Alumni Society. Marilyn Longley is with the Qualicum Beach and Area Newcomers’ Club, and this is the second year she has chaired its stocking program. She said she and her husband John like to do something for others at Christmas time, and this is a feel-good project.

“There are a lot of people that really don’t have anyone and don’t get anything, they’re shut-in or for whatever economic reasons, Christmas is a tough time for them. So it’s just something to brighten up their Christmas,” Longley said.

Longley said the generosity of members of the club is wonderful, and members really enjoy putting the gift bags together. Altogether she is expecting about 150 gift bags from the club.

Cowan said the Newcomers do a great job filling the stockings and gift bags. She said it involves many people working together to bring kindness to people at Christmas.

“This all came from love, these are random acts of kindness, and people care in our community, and we live in the best community,” she said. “So I try to portray that when I pass the stockings along.”

The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program also makes sure that local children and youth find special gifts under their trees at Christmas, and that families and individuals can choose food that is important to them over the holidays, from local grocery stores. SOS is hoping to raise $110,000 to meet the needs of residents this Christmas. To donate, visit www.sosd69.com, call 250-248-2093 or drop in to the SOS Community Services Centre in Parksville, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

— Submitted by Lissa Alexander

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