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Sisters’ Touch of Christmas moves to curbside after making merry on the edge of lockdown

December 18, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Christmas is a time Effie Gialedakis looks forward to every year, and not just for gathering around the tree with loved ones to share the spirit of the season.

For 17 years, she has volunteered her time with The Sisters’ Touch of Christmas to help make a difference in her community, the sale of one home-made Christmas ornament, home-baked box of cookies, and hand-knit scarf at a time.

The Sisters’ Touch of Christmas is a Christmas gift shop established by Bolton’s St. Kosmas Aitolos Greek Orthodox Monastery.

Situated in a heritage home on the Caledon King Townline, the Sisters’ Touch of Christmas, like so many of us, have experienced an unusual festive season, one made doubly so by the fact The Touch of Christmas is on the York Region side of the border.

For the past few weeks that Peel Region has been under lockdown, the shop on just the other side of the street has been serving customers, for whom Touch of Christmas is a holiday tradition. Now, as they settle into lockdown with the rest of York Region, they are shifting their operations to curbside pickup.

“We attend church here and 17 years ago, when the Sisters thought to do a seasonal store, we decided to all volunteer to help out as they help the community as well; we’re giving our time to help them so they can help others,” explained Ms. Gialedakis on Saturday.

“This is an unusual Christmas, but people are very nice, they are very understanding as we follow the rules and social distancing. People don’t mind to wait. Everybody is happy to follow the rules and then have a Christmas experience, because this is the ultimate Christmas experience. They love listening to the music, they sing along, and it is wonderful, wonderful time of the year.

“Some people come every year as a tradition and they are building traditions. We see children who 17 years ago were two or three, and now they come as young adults to keep the tradition going.”

Now, their doors are closed to the public.

Watching customers do their last bits of in-person shopping over the weekend before lockdown arrived was Sister Philothei, protected by a clear plastic face shield.

Over the course of the season, the Sisters and their volunteers have reconfigured their store to meet ongoing and evolving health protocols. They re-arranged the space for allow for a separate entrance and exit for customers, put increase emphasis on sanitizing and maintaining social distance, and implemented other measures to make sure the store could continue in person as long as possible.

“As far as the sales and the people, people still have that Christmas spirit in themselves,” said Sister Philothei. “They are still very happy to come, the joy and the peace has not left them. The hope hasn’t left them either, especially at this critical and difficult time of the year. I think it is probably brought people in the community closer together, if you want my honest opinion. I have seen people reach out to each other and it is really nice to see that. There is a lot of good in everybody. We’re all in this together and what else are we going to say?

“The spirit is out there – and more so to help people during a difficult time like this because there are a lot of people suffering out there. You can see a lot of people buying other things for other people just to give them that joy. That is what the spirit is also about.”

As a charitable organization, proceeds from The Sisters’ Touch of Christmas are allocated in various ways, from contributions to area shelters, organizations serving those in need, and families in need of help from within their own congregation.

As they make the shift to curbside and close the doors to customers, the Sister says it is important to remember that Christmas is not their store, nor is it December 25.

“We’re accepting phone and email orders for what people need, and we’re just going to try and assist them as we can. It’s a shame, it’s Christmas, and look what we’re all going through. But, it’s always Christmas. Christmas is more than just one meaning of gift-giving because Christmas is within all of us. It is not just the gifts and the sounds and the smells of Christmas. It is the love and the peace and the joy that each one of us gives from within us to someone else. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?”

For more on The Sisters’ Touch of Christmas, visit thesisterstoc.com or call 905-859-8077.

By Brock Weir



         


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