COURTENAY, B.C. – The Salvation Army’s shelter on Pidcock Avenue was full of people and good cheer from Christmas Eve into Boxing Day.

Salvation Army Comox Valley’s community ministries director Brent Hobden said more than 40 people stayed at the shelter each night from Dec. 24 to 26.

“That’s a huge number,” Hobden said.

Hobden noted that the shelter is open “24/7” in order to bring people in over the holiday season, adding that there was an upbeat atmosphere inside the shelter over the past three days.

“We serve a really nice meal and there’s always some snacks and treats and goodies and Christmas presents and all those things kicking around,” he said, adding that “this year there was certainly a bigger turnout than normal and I think that’s attributed to many agencies going around and reminding people that the Salvation Army shelter is open during the Christmas season, and it’s a much better place to be than out on the streets.”

Hobden wishes more people in the Comox Valley could see what happens inside the shelter during Christmas.

“There’s such an outpouring of love,” he said. “There are the usual socks and mittens and shoes and all of that other kind of stuff that comes in on a regular basis but we’ve got individuals who put together Christmas stockings.”

Small gifts made a big difference in the shelter, Hobden said.

For example, people staying at the shelter during the holidays were each given a $5.00 Tim Hortons gift card so they could go have a coffee or a snack.

“Just little things that help them to recognize that everybody is loved and everybody is appreciated,” Hobden said.