By Lissa Alexander
Janet doesn’t have children of her own but she still spends hundreds of dollars on toys and gadgets this time of year.
“It brings me a great amount of joy to do that,” says the Parksville Qualicum Beach resident, whose name has been changed so she can remain anonymous. “I’ve saved all these years, I can afford it, so why wouldn’t I do it?”
Janet spent about $1,400 on gifts at Red Apple, and then headed over to The Source and purchased hundreds of dollars worth of gifts for teenagers, before dropping them off at SOS for the Caring for Community at Christmas program. She says she can’t imagine how upsetting it must be for parents who are struggling and can’t afford any gifts for their children, so she wanted to help ease that burden.
The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program provides special gifts to local children and youth, and grocery store gift cards to families and individuals so they can choose food that is important to them over the holidays.
Rhonda has been on the receiving end of the SOS Christmas program and can attest to the special moments the gifts help create for families.
“The program is very helpful as I tend to struggle a lot,” she said. (Her name has been changed to protect her identity.)
Rhonda said Christmas is not all about gifts in her home, but she was able to select some nice things from the SOS Toy Shop and her three children really liked them.
“It made Christmas better because they had things under the tree, and my youngest loves opening things, so it was awesome,” she said.
She was also able to buy all the ingredients for a “nice, big” Christmas dinner, something she would not have been otherwise able to afford.
Janet said she hopes her gifts make a difference to local families this Christmas.
“I hope it makes them happy. I hope it lights up their eyes and makes them smile,” she said.
Families in need will make their way through the SOS Toy Shop throughout the month of December. In order to provide gifts for all the participants who register for the program, SOS hopesfor the community’s help in restocking the Toy Shop.
Red Apple has been hosting a Toy Drive for SOS since Nov. 15, and held its Annual Fill a Sleigh Day for SOS on Dec. 5. Although some changes had to be made to the in-store event due to the pandemic, Red Apple was on target last week to surpass last year’s gifts and financial donations, more than $3,000, said store manager Patricia McQuay.
“We’ve been very busy,” she said, adding that last year on Fill the Sleigh Day, Red Apple donated 10 per cent of total toy sales to SOS, and this year it would be donating 10 per cent of all store sales that day.
SOS executive director Susanna Newton said she is very grateful to Red Apple and all the shoppers and residents who have generously contributed to the SOS Christmas program in what has been a very difficult year.
“We know that these wonderful contributions will make such a positive impact in our community this Christmas,” she said.
SOS also hopes to raise $125,00 to provide grocery store gift cards to all families, seniors and adults who register for the program. To make a financial donation, visit the SOS website at www.sosd69.com, call 250-248-2093, drop by the SOS Community Services Centre in Parksville, or mail a cheque to SOS at 245 West Hirst Ave., PO Box 898, Parksville BC, V9P 2G9.