Sooke residents have been in the giving mood this Christmas, with both Ayre Manor and the Transition House Society saying they have received many gifts and supplies for their residents.
While a full-scale Christmas party was blocked due to COVID-19 rules, Kerry Williams, executive director of Ayre Manor, said residents could have one or two visitors who were fully vaccinated for a smaller Christmas party.
“Honestly, everyone has just become so accustomed to it. Some residents weren’t here before COVID-19, so they’ve known nothing else,” he said. “There’s not that much hardship. It’s just become the norm.”
Williams said that planning future events is tricky because provincial health guidelines are stringent, even restricting what kind of baubles can be hung on Christmas trees.
But Williams said there are daily activities planned, including carol singers. The manor has also received gift donations, with two Christmas wish trees: one at Pharmasave and the other in the Castle Beer & Wine Store, where customers can pick a wish off the tree and buy a gift for a manor resident.
Transition House Society also has a wish tree at Pharmasave. The society has seen donations pour in for its various programs running at this time of year.
Crystal Gelsingler, the society’s executive director, said the charity had received donations for 400 pairs of pyjamas, which go to women and their children when they arrive at the house.
The society also has been receiving donations of gifts for its New Beginnings program, which goes to women who have been in the shelter in the past and current residents. The house also looks for sponsors for people interested in sponsoring a woman or a family and hosts a Christmas dinner for residents.
Gelsinger said the Netflix show Maid, where the main character is a woman who spends time in a domestic violence shelter, has helped boost the profile of organizations like theirs and helped raise donations.
“We just had a staff meeting yesterday, and we were just talking about how it has opened up the public’s eyes to the fact that these situations are prevalent, they still exist, they exist a lot,” she said.
“The fact that it was filmed right here on our island, we find that we’re getting a lot more people calling to see how they can donate or how they can get involved with volunteering.”