A little girl and her family drop off toys for a previous edition of the Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive, benefitting the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program. The event takes place Nov. 29 this year. — Lissa Alexander photo

SOS, Tigh-Na-Mara team to put toys under trees in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Ninth annual toy drive part of 50th SOS Christmas program

We all need a little help sometimes, and Marie remembers when she came to that stark realization a few years ago at Christmas.

“I’ve been quite proud in years past, but my son had cancer… and (I thought) this program is here to use and we need help; we can’t do it all by ourselves,” she said. “And it’s really wonderful that the community supported us.”

The program that supported them is SOS Caring for Community at Christmas (formerly known as Caring for Kids at Christmas), and this marks its 50th year. The program got started in 1968 in Parksville Qualicum Beach by concerned residents who noticed that families and individuals were going without basic necessities.

Today, the program ensures that all local children and youth have a special gift to unwrap at Christmas, and that families and individuals can choose food items that are meaningful to them over the holidays. The program also partners with local Newcomers’ Clubs to deliver treat-filled Christmas stockings to seniors who are shut-in or without close friends or family.

In order to provide enough gifts to support all of our local families in need, SOS endeavours to fill a Toy Shop so that parents, caregivers and grandparents can come in and shop for their children — for free. The majority of these gifts are collected from the Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive, which is now in its ninth year.

“For us, the toy drive is the start of Christmas,” Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond said. “Our whole team gets behind it. After eight years, the team sees it as part of their festivities. We all get a tingle. To see the community get involved… they’re part of it. To think of the smiles the kids get on Christmas morning that they wouldn’t have had otherwise, it really does move us all.”

A memory from the very first toy drive has stuck with Drummond. He remembers a little girl in a beautiful Christmas dress with a toy in her hand. He later learned from her parents that they had benefitted from the SOS Christmas program as recipients previously, and had gotten back on their feet.

“If you can get that whole domino effect of the next generation looking after each other and giving back to the community, that’s another huge part of what SOS does,” he said.

Over the years, the toy drive has collected more than 12,000 gifts and more than $40,000 in cash and gift cards for the SOS Christmas program.

Marie said the community donations are a wonderful blessing for families who can’t quite make ends meet during the holidays.

“The wages are not very good here, rentals are expensive, bills are high, people are living paycheque to paycheque,” she said. “So to be able to go to SOS and shop for the kids without worrying, ‘Can I afford this? How am I going to pay my bills if I buy this?’ This program is just such a relief. And it’s a beautiful way for the community to give to others in need.”

The Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive takes place from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Nov. 29 at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort and Conference Centre. Bring an unwrapped gift and enjoy a free breakfast. A drive-thru breakfast and toy drop off is available from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

This year there is a strong need for gifts for teenagers, gift cards, lego, plush toys, and toys for infants. For more on SOS, visit www.sosd69.com.

— Lissa Alexander is the

marketing coordinator at SOS. info@sosd69.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(BLACK PRESS FILE PHOTO)
Nanaimo man killed in Highway 4 crash

RCMP say dirt bike turned ‘suddenly’ into traffic

Subject to successful grant funding, the City of Parksville will enter into an agreement with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island to operate a full complement of child, youth and family community services at the Parksville Community Centre in 2021. (BGCCVI photo)
City of Parksville to work with Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island

Mayor: “There is a critical shortage of childcare spaces in Parksville”

Cathy Stewart is currently the featured artist at the Qualicum Art and Supply Gallery, through the end of October. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Artist Cathy Stewart has paintings on display at two Qualicum Beach exhibits

‘With patience and determination you can do anything’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Nanaimo RCMP arrest man with axe in downtown park. (File photo)
Man seen with axe at Nanaimo park, numerous RCMP officers respond

Incident happened Friday evening at Maffeo Sutton Park

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Most Read