Oceanside charity looks forward to sixth year of making Christmas special for low-income families

Photo from Oceanside Christmas Wishes via Facebook
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A small Oceanside charity will soon begin accepting nominations to help low-income families during the Christmas season.

Cheryl and Chris Cote started Oceanside Christmas Wishes six years ago because they wanted to do something nice for their community. 

“We’d known a lot of very low-income parents and we came from low income parents as well,” said Cheryl Cote. “We know what Christmases were like for the kids, but we also get what it’s like for the parents.”

Families are nominated via Facebook. The couple used to carry out home checks to see what kind of situation the family was in — that ended with the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Cotes have to take people’s word.

The first priority is to make sure essentials like food and major household repairs are taken care of, according to Cote. Last year On Line Electric installed a new electrical panel and heat source in a home where the family was living without heat — the household also received all new appliances, Cote said.

The selected families also receive decorations, as well as gifts for the children — and the parents, if possible.

This year’s efforts almost did not happen because the family home, used in previous years to store the donations, underwent some renovations and is unavailable. Luckily a local company, Island Self Storage, stepped up to help, Cote said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be doing it this year.”

In the pre-COVID-19 years, Chris would make an appearance dressed as Santa and the couple could visit with the families as they dropped off the gifts. “The best part of it is when we go and do the drop-offs,” Cote said.

Chris is still able to make an appearance as Santa and meet the children from the doorway.

The couple are hoping to do some fundraising by organizing photos with Santa, if COVID-19 restrictions permit it.

Residents can begin nominating families starting Oct. 15 until Nov. 1 and the couple hope to begin receiving donations on Nov. 1, according to Cote.

Oceanside News Parksville Qualicum Beach
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