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Secret Santa, Pennies for Presents warm children's hearts
By adding just one more present to your shopping list, you can help make a Comox Valley child in need smile on Christmas morning.
Each year First Insurance Agencies' Secret Santa program ensures Comox Valley children receive that special Christmas gift from Santa — when they may otherwise have received nothing at all.
"We started it out because we saw a need that — children would be going without a Santa Claus present," says co-ordinator Pamela Jolin, adding the program is now in its 12th year and recipients and their families remain anonymous. "There's the ones that fall through the cracks that maybe their parents have just lost their jobs, they don't really qualify for any of the other programs because they're not on assistance or anything.
"That's one of the things that we wanted, was to be the one time that you didn't have to justify why you needed help."
Helping out with the program is easy; simply pick a tag off one of the special Christmas trees located at various Comox Valley businesses, buy the present written on the tag and return the unwrapped present to the same location or any First Insurance office by Dec. 15.
The number of tags this year is on par with last year — which saw gifts go out to well over 800 children between here and in Campbell River — and Jolin notes there's many, many tags left to be plucked off those trees this year.
Trees are located at Ascent Physio, Courtenay Family Chiropractic, Cumberland Dental, First Credit Union in Cumberland, Dairy Queen, Driftwood Dental, Glacier Greens, Plates, Shoppers Drug Mart in Courtenay, South Country Feed, Fitness Excellence and the Comox Valley Record plus the three First Insurance offices.
People unable to shop for a present themselves can donate to the program and one of the Secret Santa volunteers will do the shopping instead.
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Another way to contribute is through the Black Press Pennies for Presents campaign, which sends 100 per cent of its proceeds to the Secret Santa program.
People can donate pennies, coins or other cash to the campaign at the Comox Valley Record office at 765 McPhee Ave. in Courtenay, all Comox Valley locations of First Insurance, all Valley locations of Subway and all Woofy’s Discount Pet Food locations.
"For the last number of years we've been the recipient of the pennies and it's been invaluable to us," says Jolin. "It's the generosity of the community that makes this a success each year."
The Comox Valley Classic Cruisers will deliver the gifts on Dec. 20 and 21.