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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Oak Bay pandemic project gets 300 submissions

Gage Gallery exhibit shows how people cope during crisis

Peninsula food bank receives $1,000 donation from local retailer

House of Lily Koi raised the money through the annual food bank fundraiser

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read