Businesses help share Christmas joy

The Salvation Army has a wish list and it’s to make sure every child has a toy under the Christmas tree this year

The Salvation Army has a wish list and it’s to make sure every child has a toy under the Christmas tree this year –  but they need the public’s help.

The annual angel tree program is underway and is one which involves businesses and organizations handing out tags to patrons, asking for gift for the child listed.

“It’s very heartwarming,” said Tina O’Keeffe of O’Keeffe’s Automotive Service in Oak Bay, which is giving out tags and collecting toys. “It’s a big thing for me because I work with a lot of kids who don’t have much.” O’Keeffe is also a Victoria school district teacher.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Kyla Ferns said toys are collected and then displayed in a room, set up like a toy store, at the Salvation Army’s Stan Hagen Centre. Parents can then come in, by appointment, to “shop” for toys.

“Parents get the joy of shopping for their child and choosing and putting thought and care into it,” Ferns said. “This restores dignity and hope and all that festiveness.”

The one segment of the population that is often overlooked are teens, which Ferns said is a challenge.

“Older teens are the hardest to get gifts for,” Ferns said. “Teens are generally drawn to electronics or clothing.”

She suggests sports equipment or gift cards as ideal donations for teenagers.

O’Keeffe’s Automotive will collect toys on behalf of the Salvation Army until Friday, Dec. 20. The Salvation Army will continue to accept donations after that. Last year, 800 families relied on the Salvation Army to help provide toys to their children.

According to its website, 6,000 toys will be distributed in Victoria this Christmas.

Black Press’ Coins for Kids campaign is collecting nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies at participating businesses to benefit the Salvation Army Stan Hagen Centre for Families as well. Make your donation at Oak Bay Pharmasave, Verico Select Mortgage, 4Cats Art Studio, or stop by Black Press head office, 818 Broughton St. in Victoria.

For more information about the Salvation Army’s angel tree program, call 250-386-8521.