The SOS Christmas program provides grocery store gift cards so families and individuals can choose food that has special meaning to them during the holidays. Parents and grandparents can also access the program to get Christmas gifts for their children. (Submitted photo)

The SOS Christmas program provides grocery store gift cards so families and individuals can choose food that has special meaning to them during the holidays. Parents and grandparents can also access the program to get Christmas gifts for their children. (Submitted photo)

SOS Christmas program ensures PQB residents experience joy during the holidays

Gift card provides single mom with feeling of ‘incredible relief’

By Lissa Alexander

We all deserve to experience joy at Christmas.

Whether you are doing OK and have the means to provide gifts and wholesome food for your family, you’ve fallen on hard times, or life’s just not that easy for you.

Chelsea (name changed to protect her identity), a single mother and SOS Christmas program participant, explained her thoughts on accessing SOS at Christmas and throughout the year.

“People like myself, we deserve the same quality of life as people have who have been able to go through school and college and make their family and things happen,” she said. “Others for whatever reason, we might be judged, but we have limitations mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or we’ve come from very poor or very abusive backgrounds.”

Chelsea said the grocery store gift card she receives from SOS at Christmas is an incredible relief because, after falling short on grocery money all year, she knows she’ll be able to count on getting good food for her and daughter in December. She said it feels good going to the grocery store thinking she can get those higher-cost items that she really wants. She and her daughter always enjoy a turkey dinner and pie for dessert thanks to the gift card.

“She and I get up in the morning and we put the turkey in after we’ve opened the presents, and its something to look forward to in the evening alone, a nice turkey and that pie.”

For more than 50 years, the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program has been providing special gifts for local children and youth in low-income families, and grocery store gift cards for families and individuals in need. This year, SOS anticipates high needs in the program.

“We know that many local people are no longer receiving COVID-19 benefits, some owe extra money in taxes due to those benefits, and many are having trouble making ends meet,” said Susanna Newton, SOS executive director.

SOS aims to raise $200,000 this Christmas in order to meet the needs of everyone who registers for its Christmas program.

Although there are many members of the community who won’t have to rely on assistance from others this holiday season, Chelsea said there are many others that count on that help.

READ MORE: PQBeat: Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive aims to create Christmas joy again for 2021

“I think that a lot of time people in society don’t realize that because you have a good income and you’re taking care of your family on your own, it doesn’t mean that the person next to you is any less because they can’t carry it all on their shoulders, and they have to rely on SOS.”

She’s grateful for the help she receives and hopes one day, she will no longer need assistance, and looks forward to giving back at that time.

To support the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program, make a financial donation online at www.sosd69.com, call 250-248-2093, or drop by the SOS community Services Centre in Parksville during office hours. To help stock the SOS Toy Shop, attend a local event that benefits the program, locate an SOS Angel Tree at a participating business or stop by the Christmas Tent at the SOS Community Services Centre in Parksville during select times, visit the website for more information

If you need support this Christmas, call SOS.

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