By Lissa Alexander
Last year, when children throughout the community were gathered around their trees Christmas morning admiring their gifts, Charlotte’s niece, nephew, and stepdaughter were doing the same thing, thanks to the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program.
“It allowed us to provide the kids with an amazing Christmas that we could not have done on our own,” said Charlotte (her name has been changed to protect her identity.)
Charlotte has been caring for her niece and nephew, along with her stepdaughter. She said the SOS Christmas program enabled her and her husband to provide gifts the children all adored, as well as food for Christmas dinner.
She said she was delighted to be able to give the kids something new, just for them.
“My niece and nephew are used to getting used gifts,” she explained. “Their clothing is all hand-me-downs, but in this case, they got something new, something that makes them feel special. So, this program provides children a little bit of hope.”
The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program ensures local children and youth have something special waiting for them under their tree Christmas morning. The program also provides grocery store gift cards so families, as well as individuals without children, can choose food that is meaningful to them over the holidays.
One of the big events that helps stock the SOS Toy Shop, where parents and grandparents shop for free, is the Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive. For the last couple of years Tigh-Na-Mara has been unable to host the big, in-person event due to the pandemic, but organizers have kept the event going by providing alternative ways to give at Cedars Restaurant.
This year the big breakfast event is returning, and there will also be an option to bring in donations to Cedars Restaurant for those who want to avoid the crowds.
Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond said one of the main reasons he’s excited to bring back the big event is so his team at the resort can be part of the magic.
“In 2019, our last, big, one-day event, more than 50 of our team members from housekeeping, the Grotto Spa, maintenance, front office, food and beverage, and our sales team took time off work to volunteer at the event,” he said. “Seeing the community coming out, volunteering to be a part of the event, and witnessing the generosity of our community warms each of our hearts and reinforces how happy and privileged we are to be living where we do.”
Tigh-Na-Mara also started Bikes for Tykes, where staff may donate money from their paycheques to the cause. Every Christmas, they purchase bikes at a discounted rate from Canadian Tire, and those bikes help stock the SOS Toy Shop.
“To me, this is something extremely special that our team members do on a totally voluntary basis, and I am so proud that so many of our team have signed on for this,” said Drummond.
There are two ways to support the Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive this year.
From Nov. 14 to Nov. 25, Monday to Friday, bring a new, unwrapped toy, gift card or cash donation to Cedars Restaurant during breakfast hours, and receive a free Traditional Breakfast. On Nov. 30 from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., the Toy Drive Breakfast event will take place. There will also be a drive-through donation drop-off from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
“The goal is simple,” said Drummond. “We want to help ensure that every child in our community has a special gift under the tree on Christmas morning.”
Tigh-Na-Mara will also be accepting donations of non-perishable food for the local Salvation Army Food Bank.
For more information on SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program, visit www.sosd69.com.