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  

ChristmasOur Place

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

Police investigating alleged assault on Oak Bay Avenue

Staff at Oak Bay Home Hardware say one person was taken to hospital

Oak Bay neighbourhoods rocked by blasting activity

Oak Bay seeks new rock blasting bylaw regarding ‘continuous’ noise

Greater Victoria hardly making a dent in greenhouse gas emissions target

One-per-cent drop from 2007 to 2018 a far cry from the 33-per-cent goal for 2020

VIDEO: Seal pup and mom play and ‘kiss’ in Oak Bay Marina

BRNKL seal cam captures harbour seal growing up in busy harbour

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read