Editorial: Supporting community when it comes to gift-giving

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Few aspects of life have been spared the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic so far in 2020, and the holiday season can now be added to that list.

Provincial health orders to celebrate in person with no one besides immediate household members and to limit travel for “essential” purposes only is making one traditional activity — gift buying and giving — unlike any of years past. 

For island businesses that rely on a healthy economy and people willing to spend their money on Christmas gifts, the restrictions can work two ways. While fewer people might be travelling off island to shop, post office volumes suggest that activity is being replaced by online shopping. 

Islanders have shown imagination, resilience and generosity when it comes to supporting each other during the pandemic. Earlier this year, a Salt Spring Island Foundation special COVID-19 fund collected more than $200,000 in a short period of time, and some other charitable campaigns have also seen high donation levels. 

The Island Comeback program, a COVID-19 response initiative of the Rural Islands Economic Partnership, has seen a growing number of businesses on islands up and down the coast sign on to its online marketplace for gift certificates. The Farm Stand Light Up and Tour on Salt Spring is another creative way to gather Christmas gifts and goodies. 

Just like fighting the pandemic requires every person to do their part, helping local retailers, restaurant owners, artisans and health practitioners survive these challenging times also demands conscious effort. Instead of shopping through Amazon, buying gift certificates for restaurants, shops and services, or visiting local stores and studios will keep money in our community. We can even simply promise a post-pandemic meal out with friends or loved ones. 

Local not-for-profit societies have also been hit hard by the pandemic this year as regular in-person fundraisers could not be held. Donations can be made to charitable groups or one of the land conservation campaigns underway in the name of a gift recipient.

Christmas 2020 might not have the same festive feel we’re all accustomed to, but if we take the time to see what’s offered locally and help our friends and neighbours while we’re at it, it could be the start of something even better for Christmases to come.

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