SOS Caring for Community at Christmas provides special gifts for local children and youth, and grocery store gift cards for low-income families and individuals. (Photo submitted)

SOS Caring for Community at Christmas provides special gifts for local children and youth, and grocery store gift cards for low-income families and individuals. (Photo submitted)

SOS Christmas program removing stigma for children in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Initiative helps fill gap for low-income families

By Lissa Alexander

Many children look forward to Christmas and the surprises that come with it, while others are fearful of when their friends at school ask them what they got.

“I don’t care what people say, kids judge, they are critical,” said Sandy, an SOS Christmas program participant who is raising her grandchildren (her name has been changed to protect her identity). Sandy said while some children get toys or neat gifts, others might get rain or snow gear. “It can be hard on children. So if the SOS Christmas program enables kids to have a nice gift, plus a snowsuit that mom and dad are now able to buy, then it’s a necessity program.”

Sandy said the SOS Christmas program allowed her to get her grandsons both gifts they wanted, which freed up some of her money to spend on clothing and other items they need. She said she knows of other families that also aren’t able to buy gifts as well as necessities, so she feels the SOS Christmas program helps fill that gap for low-income families and helps remove the stigma kids face at school.

The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program has been providing special gifts for children and youth, as well as grocery store gift cards for families and individuals, for more than 50 years.

Angie accessed the Christmas program last year and said it made a big difference to her teenage son. She said the program allowed her to get her 13-year-old what he really wanted, plus some smaller items.

“I was able to get some Best Buy gift cards so I could buy him a headset for gaming that he loved. Without that, there’s no way I would have been able to afford those things.”

READ MORE: SOS Christmas program ensures PQB residents experience joy during the holidays

Angie said many families are struggling, having to choose between buying groceries and getting their children gifts. It is a huge relief to access the SOS Christmas program and not have to worry so much, she said, contributing to the emotional well being of local families over the holidays.

If you are a local resident who needs extra support this Christmas, call SOS at 250-248-2093. To support the 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. SOS is often short on gifts for teens and tweens in the Toy Shop. Some suggestions include hoodies, throw blankets, clothing store gift certificates, restaurant gift certificates, hygiene kits, Bluetooth speakers and headphones. Visit the SOS website for more information.

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