Here’s your chance to act like a Secret Santa this Christmas

This is the program’s 11th year, and organizers expect it to be bigger than ever

First Insurance Agencies, along with sponsors Jet FM and the Campbell River Mirror, are pleased to announce that the annual Secret Santa Program is now underway, and will run right up till Dec. 15.

This is the program’s 11th year, and organizers expect it to be bigger than ever. Since its inception in 2001, Secret Santa has provided an increasing number of gifts to families in need. This year  it’s expected that through the public’s generosity, over 700 children in Campbell River and the Comox Valley  will be reached.

The Secret Santa concept is a simple one: There are a great many families in our communities for whom Christmas is a financial burden that simply cannot be overcome. Rather than leave these children without gifts this holiday season, Secret Santa provides a means for individuals to anonymously purchase a gift from a real child’s wishlist, and have that gift connected with the child in time for Christmas.

Children’s names are submitted to a central registry at First Insurance. Those names and wishes are recorded and then given a pseudonym to protect the individual’s privacy. Next, that information is transferred to a gift tag decoration which is placed on a participating Christmas tree at one of several partner locations throughout the participating communities. Anyone who wishes to purchase a gift for one of these special children can pick a tag off any tree, go shopping and then return the unwrapped gift to the same location, or any one of the First Insurance offices. Finally, volunteers  anonymously deliver the gifts to the parents of the registered children, for opening on Christmas day.

Pamela Jolin, a longtime staff member with First Insurance, has enjoyed participating as the program has evolved.

“Over the years, the Secret Santa program has grown tremendously. It’s so humbling and always reminds us of the true meaning of the season” says Jolin.

The stories of people touched by the Secret Santa program have left a permanent impression on those who volunteer their time or generously donate gifts and cash to the program. Some of the most heartwarming and memorable Christmas wishes are those that were the most modest: not flashy toys or sophisticated electronics, instead things like warm winter boots or new bedding.

This year, trees will be located in the First Insurance office on Cedar Street, Discovery Chiropractic and United Carpet. In the Comox Valley trees are located at the following retail partners:  Ascent Physio, Courtenay Family Chiropractic, Cumberland Dental, Curves (Courtenay), Dairy Queen, Driftwood Dental, Glacier Greens, Plates, Shoppers Drug Mart, South Country Feed, and Fitness Excellence.

To register a child, simply fill out and return one of the registration forms published in the Campbell River Mirror, or pick up a form from any one of the First Insurance offices.

The identities of registered families is held in the strictest confidence and great care is taken to ensure that the gifts are delivered discreetly. To purchase a gift for one of these children (maximum value $50), just pick a tag off any of the Secret Santa trees and go shopping.

It is the goal of program organizers that no child in the community is left to greet Christmas morning without a gift, so they really need your help.

If you are unable to shop, you can also participate by donating to the program, and one of the Secret Santa volunteers will do the shopping for you.

For more information, call First Insurance at 250-703-0858 or 1-800-655-5255 or visit any one of the offices.