In a year that has seen so many cancellations, it’s no surprise the holiday season is going to look a little different.
For many years, First Insurance – The Co-operators has hosted a Secret Santa program to get toys for kids, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the office is having to put it off for 2020.
“Unfortunately, this year to be socially responsible, we couldn’t do it,” says Scott Williamson, a commercial and farm insurance advisor with First Insurance – The Co-operators.
The program started at the 8th Street location in 2001, while a similar one runs at the Powell River location.
“We saw the need and got this program running,” he said.
He estimates if they went ahead, it would mean they would have 250 people coming into the office over a couple of days in December right before Christmas to pick up gifts, which presented too big a public health risk.
Typically each year, they get gifts for about 350 to 400 kids, of which 250 come into the location for pickup. The rest of the gifts are delivered by the Valley’s “Cruisers” club.
Through the Secret Santa program, parents register their child and what type of gifts they would like and send the information to First Insurance – The Co-operators. A card with all the information is filled out and put on the business’s Christmas tree.
“People from the community come get it off the tree and buy the gift.,” Williamson said.
Once the gifts are lined up, First Insurance – The Cooperators makes sure they get to the families in time of Christmas.
As a backup plan, the business is finding other ways to help out the community during the holidays this year.
“We’re donating to two different programs,” Williamson said.
These are Comox Valley Christmas for Kids as well as a Christmas hamper program, but First Insurance – The Co-operators hopes to have Secret Santa back for next year.