With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, and with funds at less than half the amount required, the Society of Organized Services is concerned about meeting the needs of the community this year.
“We have close to 1,000 households registered for our Caring for Kids at Christmas Program,” explains Renate Sutherland, executive director of SOS, “and we are concerned because donations are down from what they have been in previous years.”
SOS is hoping to raise $115,000.00 this Christmas in order to purchase grocery store gift cards for low income families and individuals in the Oceanside area. This is up $5,000.00 from last year due to economic conditions and the increased demand for support. People have been registering for the Christmas Program since November 18, and distribution of gift cards, plus toys from the SOS Toy Shop will begin Monday, December 16.
“We give grocery store gift cards to families and individuals, so that they can purchase the kinds of foods that are meaningful to them during this season, whether it is a certain cultural food or a special once-a-year treat,” adds Sutherland. “Most of us can remember eating something each year that speaks to our memories of this season. We believe that everyone deserves to enjoy those things that bring meaning to them.
“Every year, we have people who ask about sponsoring a family for Christmas. Donating to the SOS Caring for Kids at Christmas fund may not be the same as choosing the gifts and foods for a certain family, but it’s almost more personal, because the people who receive the gift cards are receiving your gift of dignity.”
But those gift cards cost money, and with over 100 people a day arriving at SOS to receive their gift cards and choose toys for their children each day, Sutherland remains hopeful that the community will help the SOS reach its goal of $115,000 this year.
“We live in an incredibly generous community, and I am reminded of that every single day when I see the faces of our busy volunteers, and the people who drop off cheques and toys to us. This community has always pulled together to share Christmas with their neighbours.”
Donations can be dropped off or mailed in to PO Box 898, 245 West Hirst Ave, Parksville V9P 2G9.
— Submitted by SOS