Some Christmas campaigns are not happening this year or are taking place in very different ways.
In response, the Baynes Sound Lions Club is getting behind a program to help raise toys for children. It’s the latest campaign from Island Hearts of Hope, called Comox Valley Christmas for Kids, and it will be raising toy donations for children through online registration. While it’s not a Lions project, the club is supporting the effort for the coming holiday season.
On the Island Hearts of Hope website, the organizers say, “This year, it was brought to our attention that due to COVID-19, Santa’s Workshop, which began in 1958 as well as Secret Santa which has been helping with toys for approx 20 years will not be able to run their programs…. We are pleased to be able to step in and help fill the gap.”
They have 23 drop-off locations around the Comox Valley for new toys, and they are also taking cash donations for the program.
Island Hearts of Hope started in 2017 as a way to help communities affected by fires in parts of the province. Shellie Smyrichinsky, who’s a member of the Baynes Sound Lions, co-founded Island Hearts of Hope with Deb Muckle and Tamara Meggitt. Since they started, they have helped other families affected by house fires as well as the Comox Bay Care Society with the Care-A-Van that provides services to vulnerable people.
“Every year, we do a collection around Christmas for them,” says Smyrichinsky.
The Baynes Sound Lions Club, itself, has been busy of late with other projects, such as the 30-km Walk-A-Thon from Fanny Bay to the Sid Williams Theatre as part of the Nov. 1 telethon. They are also putting together Christmas hampers for families in need this holiday season.
One Baynes Sound Lions member, Ann Pratt, who is 90, is taking a hands-on approach in terms of giving back, as for the 18th year, she is knitting clothing for children’s dolls. The Union Bay resident will be donating dolls and their knitted clothing to the cause, as well as knitted toques for teenagers and kids.
“She has been doing this for 18 years now. She has to start each January to reach her goal by the following Christmas,” says Lions member Treasure Ducharme.
The Comox Valley Christmas for Kids toy drive is taking donations and registrations for families needing toys until Dec. 5, though they are planning a final toy drop-off campaign for Dec. 12 and 13. It was to take place in the parking lot for Smyrichinsky’s business, UB Diving, and her neighbours at Courtenay Transmission and Corks and Caps. The new location will be the parking lot at the Driftwood Mall.
“We are actually going to do a fill-the-trailer promotion,” says Smyrichinsky.
If you know someone who could use a hand in putting toys under the tree at Christmas, or if you want more information, including drop-off locations for toys, go to www.cvchristmasforkids.com.