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

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Donations still needed to cover cost of Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground, opening Aug. 24

Local fundraisers have collected $150,000 of the required $250,000 in costs

Victoria woman experiencing homelessness wants systematic changes as she faces losing her truck

Willi Boepple fears losing one of her last possessions after being inundated with parking tickets

WATCH: Marine security company posts live seal cam at Oak Bay Marina

Seals tend to loiter near the fish-cleaning table

Navy ship returns after deployment to Asia-Pacific region

HMCS Regina return to its home port at Esquimalt on Aug. 19

Fashion Fridays: How to dress and feel powerful

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Portland, Oregon, awaits right-wing rally, counter protests

Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson surrendered Friday on an arrest warrant for felony rioting

Kraft Heinz brand baby food recalled in B.C. due to possibility of insects

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the product should not be consumed

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action thanked the feds

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

Victoria Shamrocks open WLA finals at Q Centre in Colwood

Team is evenly matched in championship series against Maple Ridge Burrards

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Most Read