Last week, the Society of Organized Services (SOS) kicked off its 50th annual Christmas campaign of providing toys, food and other assistance to local families in need.
In 1968, SOS raised $475 and gathered another $100 in food while distributing 36 Christmas hampers. Last year, the fundraising total was more than $113,000 and either toys or gift cards were distributed to more than 2,400 children and adults.
That kind of success is deserving of a hat tip to the SOS staff and its many volunteers and community partners. But with the 50th campaign now under way, we think it’s a good time to recognize another key demographic making lives a little brighter at the holiday season.
That would be the residents of — and visitors to — the greater Parksville Qualicum Beach region who open their wallets and, just maybe, their hearts when local charitable organizations come calling.
Because while SOS may be the biggest single player in the holiday helping game, it takes only a quick review of some recent food, toy and fundraising campaigns to illustrate it may be just the tip of the yule iceberg.
Groups such as the Silver Spurs equestrian club, with their upcoming toy drive in Parksville Saturday, and the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, with its Festival of Trees auction last week, funnel their donations to SOS.
But there are numerous groups in the community actively seeking our help in making a difference in a variety of other ways.
Nearly all of the region’s volunteer fire departments teamed with the Salvation Army this past weekend to canvass their communities for food and funds for the local food bank. Returns early Sunday suggested this might be a record-breaking year in both food and cash contributions.
There are people and organizations seeking donations of shoes, others asking for handbags or backpacks filled with hygiene and other personal items. We’ve got local school students creating artwork to raise money for fellow students in remote Guatemala, and grandmothers doing much the same for their counterparts in war- and disease-wracked parts of Africa.
And those are just the ones that have appeared in these pages in the past week.
Those in greatest need of help could really use the assistance year-round. That’s what organizations such as SOS and the Salvation Army continue to provide. But it’s the response of local donors that makes it possible. For those who are at rock-bottom, it seems the rest of us can dig just a little bit deeper.
— Parksville Qualicum Beach News