SOS is hoping to make up ground on donations in the coming weeks to help provide grocery store gift cards to families and individuals this Christmas. (Submitted photo)

SOS is hoping to make up ground on donations in the coming weeks to help provide grocery store gift cards to families and individuals this Christmas. (Submitted photo)

SOS Christmas program behind on financial donations for 2021

Program has been operating for 53 years in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region

By Lissa Alexander

With the price of food soaring, many residents are having a hard time putting food on the table, let alone purchasing the makings for a Christmas dinner.

Mary (her name has been changed to protect her identity) is feeling that pressure.

“I take care of my daughter and senior mother,” she said. “We have very limited income between us.”

Fortunately, she is able to access the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program to help provide a gift for her daughter and to help purchase food for the holidays.

Thanks to community support, SOS has a toy shop filled with gifts where low-income parents and grandparents can shop for free for their children. SOS also provides local grocery store gift cards for families and individuals so they can choose food that is important to them over the holidays.

The SOS Christmas program has been operating for 53 years in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region. Last year, SOS provided gifts to 990 children and youth, and 906 adults and seniors received grocery store gift cards.

This year SOS is anticipating higher needs for the Christmas program as the charity has seen higher demand for emergency food vouchers from families and seniors in recent months.

The SOS Christmas campaign goal is $200,000 this year, and so far $55,379 has been raised. Susanna Newton, SOS’s executive director, said the organization is grateful for the support they’ve received so far, but they are hoping to make up some ground in the coming weeks.

“The SOS Toy Shop is looking good thanks to community donations,” said Newton.

READ MORE: Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive collects 1,397 toys, $16,550 in cash and gift cards

“But to make sure there is something for everyone who accesses the program, we are hoping to get some more gifts for teens and tweens, particularly gift cards so they can go shopping, and our financial donations are quite a bit lower than where they have been in previous years.”

With more than 250 people already registered for the program, Newton knows many residents are still coming to terms with their financial situation and are realizing they simply don’t have enough to get them though the holidays.

Instead of worrying how she’s going to put food on the table this Christmas, Mary is looking forward to the meal she’ll make.

“This program makes it possible for our family to enjoy a Christmas meal that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford,” she said, “plus a gift for my child. Thank you.”

To help SOS meet needs this Christmas, donate online at www.sosd69.com, call 250-248-2093 or drop by the Community Services Centre in Parksville during business hours. To find out when the Christmas tent is set up for convenient gift drop offs at SOS in Parksville, visit the SOS website. Or find an SOS Angel Tree at a participating business and purchase the gift listed on the tag. Those gifts are in high demand in the Toy Shop.

If you are in need of extra support this Christmas, call SOS at 250-248-2093.

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