The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program is helping make sure local children and youth feel special this Christmas by providing new gifts donated by the community. SOS is halfway to its goal of raising $200,000 to provide grocery store gift cards for local families and individuals in need. (Submitted photo)

The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program is helping make sure local children and youth feel special this Christmas by providing new gifts donated by the community. SOS is halfway to its goal of raising $200,000 to provide grocery store gift cards for local families and individuals in need. (Submitted photo)

SOS helps Parksville Qualicum Beach children feel special at Christmas

Donations still sought as group aims to raise $200K

By Lissa Alexander

Invaluable. That’s how Katrina would describe the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program.

“This year we are finding it tough because of the increase in costs,” said Katrina (her name has been changed to protect her identity). “Our rent is going up in January, so we have to factor all that in and the [SOS] Christmas program makes it so much better.”

Katrina accessed the SOS program last year for her family of five, and said it allowed her and her husband to give the children a Christmas that they would otherwise not have been able to afford.

The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program provides local low-income families with special gifts for their children and youth, and families and individuals receive local grocery store gift cards so they can choose food that is important to them over the holidays.

Families are currently making their way through the SOS Toy Shop located at the SOS Community Services Centre in Parksville. It is stocked up with gifts donated by the community and SOS Christmas program coordinator Shayla Deleau said although it looks amazing, there are a few more items SOS is hoping to receive this year.

“We are short on gifts for teens and tweens,” she said. “That includes gifts for eight-to-12-year-olds, like craft kits and Nerf blasters, and gifts for older teen boys, like electronics or sporting equipment.”

READ MORE: SOS Christmas program behind on financial donations for 2021

Katrina said the Christmas gifts she received for her children last year were incredible. She said for children that are used to getting second-hand items or hand-me-downs, receiving something new makes them feel very special. She said Christmas with nothing can be bleak and make you feel down, but the SOS Christmas program turns that around for people.

“It offers hope to us. It lets us know we are not alone and there are people that care. We can’t thank everyone enough.”

SOS aims to raise $200,000 for the Christmas campaign to ensure the needs of everyone who registers for the program are met. The organization is behind where they usually are for financial donations.

To help SOS make Christmas brighter for residents, make a financial donation 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.

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

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