Front to back, SOS Christmas program co-ordinator Elizabeth Nicol with volunteers Elaine Eddy, Suzanne Chaddock, Janet Smukowich, Judy Colhoun and Louise Patrick in the SOS Toy Shop. - Lissa Alexander photo

Front to back, SOS Christmas program co-ordinator Elizabeth Nicol with volunteers Elaine Eddy, Suzanne Chaddock, Janet Smukowich, Judy Colhoun and Louise Patrick in the SOS Toy Shop. - Lissa Alexander photo

SOS: Coming together to make Christmas brighter

Group hopes to reach monetary goal of $110,000

It takes a community effort to make sure our vulnerable residents are taken care of at Christmas time.

This year, 140 volunteers have come together to help deliver the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program.

The volunteers work in 12 different areas, from registering clients for the program, picking up toys from local businesses, to walking parents through the Toy Shop to help them select that special gift their child has been asking for.

“Our volunteers are amazing,” said SOS Christmas program co-ordinator, Elizabeth Nicol. “They come to us full of enthusiasm and kindness, and set to work making Christmas brighter for others.”

The need in Parksville Qualicum Beach has continued to grow in the last decade, and every year SOS has seen more families and individuals struggling to make ends meet. This year the numbers for the Christmas program look similar to last year, Nicol explained, which saw 1,248 children receive gifts, and 1,146 adults receive local grocery store gift cards, so they could choose food that was important to them over the holidays.

SOS began offering registrations from its Qualicum Beach location a few years ago, and Nicol said the number of people accessing registration from that location continues to grow.

Parents, caregivers and grandparents started going through the SOS Toy Shop to select gifts on Dec. 13 this year, and they will continue to visit the Toy Shop until SOS closes on Dec. 21.

Nicol said the amount of toys that have come in this year has been incredible.

“We’re so thankful to the groups who held events to help fill our Toy Shop, and everyone who supported those events. Our amazing Angel Tree businesses and their supporters really came through again this year, and it was so nice to see so many individuals come into the SOS Community Services Centre with gifts.”

Nicol is hopeful SOS will reach its monetary goal of $110,000 this year, which covers the cost of the grocery store gift cards for everyone who registers for the program. So far the total raised is $96,390.

To support the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program, donate online at www.sosd69.com, call 250-248-2093 or drop into the SOS Community Services Centre during business hours.

— Submitted by Lissa Alexander

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