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.

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

Just Posted

Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond, left, and SOS executive director Susanna Newton right are prepared for a reinvented Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive in 2020. COVID-19 will not spoil the community’s annual day of giving and help for local families through the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program. (Peter McCully photo)
Reinventing Parksville Qualicum Beach’s popular Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive

COVID-19 restrictions won’t spoil community’s annual morning of giving

Map of the location of the Telus cell tower that it plans to build in Qualicum Beach. (Town of Qualicum Beach Map)
Qualicum Beach council approves location of Telus communications tower

Plan is to improve cellphone service in the area

The City of Quesnel has painted its functional fire hydrants with different characters. (Quesnel Downtown Association Photo)
Qualicum Beach committee wants fire hydrants painted with sea life designs

Local artists would be invited to help with the work

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a woman who allegedly threw hot coffee on a McDonald’s employee. (News Bulletin photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP still looking for woman who threw coffee at worker after already receiving refund

Police asking for information in investigation that could lead to assault charges

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read