Marco Chairez and Alicia Aguyao are seeking refugee status in Canada after fleeing Mexico. They have their hearing in Vancouver soon, and dream of opening up their own food truck to serve authentic Mexican food. They are both working hard to learn English and save money, and this year recieved a couple gifts through the Angel Gifts program at Our Place. (Nicole Crescenzi/ News Staff)

WATCH: Hundreds of gifts go out to Victoria’s Our Place patrons

The Angel Gifts Program saw 700 Christmas presents go out to the community

Mountains of presents took over the chapel at Our Place on Wednesday morning, each neatly wrapped and meant for someone special.

The Angel Gifts Program has run for over 15 years, and this year saw 700 gifts go out to Our Place patrons. Each year local churches, schools and community centres receive information about a particular person: their first name, age, gender and size, and purchase new gifts for them to pick up for Christmas.

“I think the best part is Christmas can be a really tough time for people that maybe don’t have contact with their family, or it can be a very lonely time and a tough time for folks,” said Jordan Cooper, outreach manager at Our Place.

ALSO READ: Victoria’s Our Place is calling for more blanket donations

Cooper has been part of the Angel Gifts program since he was a teenager, and said every year it’s an amazing experience.

“To see the happiness in their eyes when you give them a Christmas present that’s for them , that’s definitely the best part,” he said.

For Garth Tufford, the gift gives him something to look forward to on Christmas Day.

“Oh no, I’m waiting to open this,” Tufford said. “This is the only gift I’ve got.”

Paul Fenje, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to open his. He received a new fleece shirt, some socks, underwear and a knitted toque.

“It’s very impressive, it gives the recipients a sense of worth and a feeling of gratitude,” Fenje said. “It’s a very nice gesture on behalf of many people doing these offerings.”

For Marco Chairez and Alicia Aguayo, the Angel Gifts Program represented their second year in Canada after seeking refugee status when they fled Mexico.

ALSO READ: Victoria volunteers serve up latke lunch at Our Place

“We’re having our interview soon in Vancouver, but we already got our work permit,” Aguayo said. “We’re taking classes, ESL, and also classes on self employment and how to start or own little business, and in the future hopefully we’re gonna have our own food truck with Mexican food. It’s a joy to be in Canada.”

In the mean time the duo are trying to make ends meet, and the Angel Gifts help bring joy to the season, while highlighting the amazing staff and volunteers who organized them.

“This was the first place that opened their doors to us. When we arrived, we find the doors are open, and when we came in… they said ‘welcome to Canada,’” Chairez said. “God bless, I’m happy.”

Aguayo agreed.

“For me it’s a blessing, and bless to all the good hearts, good souls, good people good community and keep blessing Canada,” she said. ” It’s really important for us to receive a gift… A gift, is just a gift, it’s a real thing. Thank you.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Victoria Foundation thrilled to see sun shine on B.C.’s philanthropists, builders

Province declares September ‘Community Foundations Month’

100 art pieces donated for fundraiser supporting refugee family new to Victoria

Saanich fundraiser will see every participant go home with a new piece of art

Saanich Fire celebrates 100th anniversary with party

Simulations, prizes, cake and more at No. 1 hall

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

GoodLife marathon helps enrich lives, share stories

Seniors’ care one of many causes supported by GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Tragic bus crash, Pacific FC win and Terry Fox runs

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Scheer makes quick campaign stop in Comox

Conservative leader highlights tax promises early in campaign

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read