By Lissa Alexander
The tighter provincial restrictions announced in late November brought cancellations to SOS child, youth and family programming — but there was a silver lining.
“We decided since we couldn’t see the families, we would deliver the prepared food and activities to them!” said SOS child, youth and family programs manager, Alice Tulia. “And they were so excited and grateful.”
SOS restarted modified versions of its programs for children, youth and families in September. Programs were slated to run until the end of November, but the last week of programming was cancelled due to the provincial restrictions. Program participants were very understanding of the cancellation, but for the parents attending the children and family programs, it meant explaining to their children that they wouldn’t be attending.
“When the parents told them they weren’t going to TIC TAC, there were some tears,” said Taylor Oriecuia, SOS child, youth and family co-ordinator in Parksville. “But when the children were told that we were coming, they were very excited, and that was so nice to see.”
Hollie Francis, SOS child, youth and family co-ordinator in Qualicum, said while children were ecstatic about the visit, there was also a sense of relief from the parents. Many parents are feeling anxious and overwhelmed by having to keep their children home all the time. Francis explained that one mother said she wasn’t sure what she was going to do next to entertain her children, and she didn’t have a plan for dinner. When SOS co-ordinators arrived, they delivered Christmas wreath-making supplies and a roast beef dinner.
“Thank you sooooooo much! That was a wonderful surprise for them and very happy for us all… Much love to you all,” said a parent in a text message after the delivery.
SOS volunteers and staff prepared the food that was planned for the cancelled programming, which included Shepard’s Pie for Family Night, and homemade muffins, crackers, yogurt, and fruit for TIC TAC participants, along with homemade play dough and crafts.
“One child was so excited he was vibrating,” said Francis. “He brought out his animals to show us and his backpack. It was nice to connect with them on a different level.”
Co-ordinators were also able to provide resources, including information on how to register for the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program.
Local families who need help providing gifts for their children this Christmas can access the program, as well as residents who need help putting food in the cupboard. One local mom who accessed the program last year said the gifts and local grocery store gift cards helped make her family’s Christmas special.
“I used my food gift cards for my Christmas dinner, and I was able to buy meat and cheese and some of those more expensive things that I can’t usually afford. I was able to get some Best Buy gift cards through the program and bought my son a head set for gaming that he loved. Without that help, there’s no way I would have been able to afford those things.”
To register for the SOS Christmas program call 250-248-2093. To make a donation to support the program, donate online at www.sosd69.com, call, visit the SOS Community Services Centre in Parksville, or call the Qualicum Beach location to ensure someone is there to receive your donation: 250-752-2040.
SOS is very low on gifts for teenagers. To deliver a donation quickly and safely, bring a new, unwrapped gift to the SOS Community Services Centre drop-off tent at the SOS Community Services Centre in Parksville on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Visit the SOS website for more information.
SOS is hoping to resume child, youth and family programming on Jan. 4.