By Lissa Alexander
December is the one month of the year when Wendy does not feel worried about providing for her daughter, and that’s because of the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program.
“It’s nice to be able to go in to the grocery store thinking, I can afford to buy that apple pie and that $20 turkey, and it’s OK, she said. “Spending that chunk on the gift card we get, I never feel bad.”
Wendy (her name has been changed to protect her identity) is a single mother and said that throughout the year, she has to forego certain foods for her and her daughter, as they are too expensive. But at Christmas, thanks to the support from the community, the SOS Christmas program provides gifts for her daughter, as well as a grocery store gift card.
“When Christmas day comes, and its just me and my daughter—we don’t have family around here, she and I get up in the morning and we put the turkey in after we’ve opened the presents, and it’s something to look forward to in the evening alone, a nice turkey and that pie.”
The SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program relies on community donations to fill the SOS Toy Shop where low-income parents and grandparents shop for free. Monetary donations enable SOS to provide local grocery store gift cards so families and individuals can choose food that is important to them over the holidays. SOS hopes to raise $120,000 to meet the needs of residents who register for the program this year.
Wendy says she is so grateful for the gifts she has been able to get for her daughter in the SOS Toy Shop.
“SOS allows you to choose a teddy bear, a book, a board game and stocking stuffers, and it just makes all the difference for your child to smile and laugh on Christmas morning. It’s nice that a kid can feel that Santa really cares and knows you’re a good girl or boy, and see a few gifts scattered under [the tree].”
SOS Volunteers have been busy stocking the Toy Shop shelves with donations so parents, caregivers and grandparents can select those special items their children have been asking for.
April Deleau, SOS Christmas program co-ordinator, said the community has been very generous and the Toy Shop is looking amazing, but there are a couple of areas that are low on gifts.
“The shelves that we designate for teenagers and pre-teens are looking a little bare,” said Deleau. “We would love to see some donations like trendy room décor items: blankets and funky lights, as well as jewelry, make up, nail kits, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, watches, wallets and hygiene kits.”
For infants, the Toy Shop could use sensory and teething toys, plush toy pacifiers, clothing, bibs, booties and books, Deleau said.
To donate to the program, visit the SOS website, call 250-248-2093 or drop off new, unwrapped gifts to the SOS Community Services Centres in Parksville or Qualicum Beach.
For more information on the SOS Christmas program visit www.sosd69.com.