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)

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 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo to increase fees for disposal of mattresses

Current rate of $15 per unit not enough to cover recycling

A screenshot depicting the Shelly Creek watershed. The watershed itself is outlined in white and blue line in the middle signifies the creek. (Submitted photo)
Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society to conduct two projects and mail out surverys in Parksville

Vice-president: ‘I have some good news, some bad news, and some really ugly news about Shelly Creek’

(PQB News file photo)
Streetscape construction and utility upgrades on Bagshaw Street in Parksville will soon begin

Work will include the replacement and upgrading of approximately 360 metres of utilities and roadway

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read