Volunteer Christmas co-chairs get together regularly at SOS to help the SOS Christmas program run smoothly

A way to get into the Christmas spirit in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Drop by the SOS with your donation for the Caring for Kids at Christmas campaign

  • Nov. 17, 2015 9:00 a.m.

LISSA ALEXANDER

Special to The NEWS

Some people get into the Christmas spirit by singing traditional holiday songs, others enjoy the sweet scent of baking, and some find joy in decorating their homes. But for the 16 SOS volunteers taking on the role of Christmas Co-Chairs in the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas Program this year, it’s giving back that warms their hearts.

“It’s fun, it’s really a great way to celebrate Christmas,” said Christmas Co-Chair Carol Round. Joan Bentley, a co-chair who has been volunteering for the program on and off for 23 years, agrees.

“It’s very rewarding when you know you’ve helped somebody,” she said. “For some people, it has made their Christmas.”

The SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas program ensures every local child and youth find a special gift under the tree, and that adults can enjoy a meaningful meal over the holidays, with dignity. Warm your heart this Christmas by helping SOS ensure local residents experience the joys of Christmas. You can donate online at www.sosd69.com, call 250-248-2093 to donate by credit card, or drop by the SOS Child, Youth & Family Centre in Parksville with your donation. This year people can also donate in Qualicum Beach at the SOS Child, Youth & Family Centre in Qualicum Commons, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Last year, thanks to community donations, SOS was able to provide 1,189 grocery store gift cards to low-income individuals and distributed 999 gifts for children.

Round, who has been volunteering with the program for 10 years, remembers a young woman who came in to choose a gift for each of her four children, and decided on a pair of socks for her teenager.

“I said to her, ‘Oh that’s not very much,’ and she said, ‘It is to me.’ That was humbling.”

Bentley said she was asked to help out with the SOS Christmas program about 23 years ago, and she enjoyed it so much that she has come back a number of times. Over the years she has volunteered as an elf in the program, assisting low income parents and grandparents choose  gifts for their children, and she has helped set up the hospitality room, where parents wait patiently for their turn to enter the SOS Toy Shop, among other roles.

“It’s just such lovely people and it’s a nice way to give back to the community.”

Heather Strutynski has been volunteering with the program for four years. She heard about the volunteer opportunity at a Newcomer’s Club meeting. She said she enjoys the people she volunteers with and the clients who use the program.

“They are all very appreciative of what we’re doing for the community. Sometimes there’s a few teary-eyed moments.”

Like the time a couple of years ago when a resident who was new to the country came through the program, she said. Although the co-chairs said it was okay to pick out a few items for her children, she only took one item.

Another heart-warming moment occurred when a past client of the program brought in a number of hand-made wreaths to give out to clients, Strutynski explained.

Seeing all the gifts donated by community members is also very inspiring, the co-chairs explained.

“The generosity of this community is amazing,” said Round. “We’ve got a wonderful community.”

Join our caring community and help us ensure all the needs of our residents are met this Christmas. Drop by the SOS Child, Youth & Family Centre with a donation Monday through Friday from

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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