Ted Spence at Bigfoot Burgers in Whiskey Creek stands with his Angel Tree and a gift that one of his patrons purchased for the SOS Christmas program. Bigfoot Burgers is one of more than 30 local businesses helping fill the SOS Toy Shop for local families in need. (Lissa Alexander photo)

Parksville Qualicum Beach businesses step up as Christmas Angels

‘It’s a good thing to do for the community’

By Lissa Alexander

Without the help of the community, *Sandy would not have been able to give her two boys Christmas several years ago.

“It was worst time of my life, and the community came together, and that program… it saved me, it put faith in my heart that there are people out there that really care.”

The program Sandy is referring to is the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program. (*Her name has been changed to protect her identity.) It was December and her landlord had sold the house she was renting and she needed to move her family before Christmas. After paying for moving and all the costs that come with it, she had little left for anything else.

SOS was able to provide her with a Christmas tree and gifts for her children, as well as a local grocery store gift card so she could choose food that she and her boys looked forward to over the holidays.

One of the ways SOS is able to provide gifts to families who register for the Christmas program is through the Angel Tree program. Local businesses and organizations hang SOS Angel ornaments from their Christmas trees, and on the back of each ornament, a gift is listed. These gifts have been identified as popular items that local children and youth have been asking for. Patrons take an ornament, purchase the gift listed on the back (or as close to it as possible) and return it to the store. SOS volunteers pick up the gifts, which help stock the SOS Toy Shop, where low-income parents and grandparents shop for free.

READ MORE: Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive for SOS in Parksville brings in 1,800 toys and more than $13,000

“It’s a good thing to do for the community,” said Anthony Veselisin, general manager of Lefty’s restaurants in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. “It helps families that are less fortunate and it supports our community.”

Lefty’s has been hosting an SOS Angel Tree for many years, and both staff and customers look forward to participating, Veselisin said.

Bigfoot Burgers in Whiskey Creek opened in May of this year and is hosting its first SOS Angel Tree. After setting up the tree recently, there are already four gifts underneath it. Owner Ted Spence said he thinks Arrowsmith Coombs Country residents appreciate the opportunity to contribute in this way. He said it’s hard to comprehend what its like for families who are struggling at Christmas.

“I don’t know what they are going through but all you can do is try to help get their Christmas closer to what I experienced and I loved.”

The Regional District of Nanaimo has been hosting Angel Trees at Ravensong Pool and Oceanside Arena for many years. Davina at the pool said it is a great program that helps pool patrons support the community in an easy and accessible way.

“We have it set up for them, they can pick up [the Angels] here and drop their gifts off here, and the regulars really look forward to it.”

Some years pool patrons have helped filled several garbage bags with gifts, Davina said.

Sandy said that when she went to select gifts for her boys in the SOS Toy Shop, the selection of gifts was amazing, and she was able to find gifts that they loved. The volunteers were very friendly, and the whole experience was very positive she said.

“You actually made my little boys’ Christmas,” she said of the SOS Christmas program.

There are more than 30 local businesses and organizations participating in the Angel Tree program this year. Please visit the SOS website for a complete list: www.sosd69.com.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

Parksville Qualicum Beach crime report: Suspect identified after theft of safe

Oceanside RCMP received 254 complaints the week of Nov. 24-30

Parksville swimmer Bennett has sights set on 2020 Para Olympics

Canadian coach impressed with rapid progress of world-record holder

RDN board votes to continue webcasting meetings despite low viewership

Staff to report back to RDN board about live-streamed meetings in time for 2021 budget discussions

Manna hands out gift cards to those in need in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Volunteers say it makes a big difference during the holidays

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Pacioretty scores 2, Golden Knights top Canucks 6-3

Vegas goalie Fleury gets win No. 452

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read