Many elves, we hear, are hundreds of years old before they qualify to work alongside Santa.
That must put five-year-old Tate and his two-year-old little brother Simon among the youngest working elves in the world.
And these Langley City boys were chosen to do their first shift as Santa’s helper’s extra early on Tuesday morning at Newland’s Golf & Country Club in Langley.
They joined a dozen or so Langley firefighters and another dozen or so Langley Mounties who were collecting new, unwrapped gifts for kids in need in their community.
“We’re here today helping people collect toys… because it’s a good cause,” said firefighter and father Micah Rossnagel, who’s been with the City department for six year.
“I want to do it next year,” said Tate, reluctantly leaving for school.
Asked what the best toy was that he received on behalf of the bureau, Tate didn’t hesitate: “Ninja.”
These youngsters were among close to a hundred volunteers who helped at the inaugural Children’s Wish Breakfast.
This event, hosted by and for the Langley Christmas Bureau, attracted hundred of willing gift givers of all ages, some who simply drove through and dropped off a gifts to the firefighters and young elves, and many others who delivered toys and gift cards to the Mounties inside, then stuck around for a buffet breakfast and live entertainment.
All the people came bearing gifts, and by the time the three-hour toy drive was wrapped up, and the gifts were gathered into one pile, toys reached almost to the ceiling of the golf course ballroom.
“Wow. Can you believe all these toys,”, said Donalda Whaites, a co-coordinator of this year’s bureau, and the individual responsible for the toy depot. She kept passing by the growing mound of toys and snapping photographs.
“This has exceeded our expectations by a thousand fold,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.
“Thank you to everyone who has brought all these things and joined us for a wonderful breakfast at Newlands.”
Fellow co-coordinator Velma MacAllister (a.k.a. Mrs. Claus) was equally impressed and admittedly moved by the outpouring of donations.
“This is so overwhelming,” she said, admitting that during the organizing meetings there was some fear this new event might not fly.
Those fears were quashed just minutes into the breakfast, when it became apparent Langley was throwing their support behind this worthy cause and this new event.
“This is an amazing success,” MacAllister said, explaining how she’d spoke to some guests who attended a Christmas breakfast in downtown Vancouver last year. They had to wait 45 minutes just to park. But now, having attended this event, they had apparently vowed to be back here every year.
Given this year’s reaction, MacAllister put out a challenge to double the amount of toy donations next year.
“We’re so excited. So pleased. So overwhelmed,” she said. “Thank you, and Merry Christmas.”
Cpl. Craig van Herk, one of the participating Langley Mounties in red serge, mingled through the crowd, chatting with people as they dropped off toys, ate breakfast, and enjoyed the live music.
“Langley sure does community well,” he told the Langley Advance. “The community is so strong in Langley… we have a lot to be proud of.”
Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer was astonished by the numbers for this first-time event, too.
“People in the community are just coming out and giving,” he said, describing the enthusiasm of volunteers and donors alike on #GivingTuesday truly motivational.
“The food just keeps coming. The people keep coming,” and the donation of toys keeps coming.
“Please think of the children. Think of the families [in need] who are in our community, and just be part of Giving Tuesday,” he encouraged.
For those unable to attend this morning’s breakfast, he noted that donations can still be dropped off at the Christmas bureau office on Eastleigh Crescent, City hall, the Langley Advance office, or at the toy tree at Willowbrook Shopping Centre starting Friday.
Schaffer’s wife, Jean, is another one of the co-coordinators at the bureau. She, too, was expressing eternal gratitude to everyone in Langley who came out to make the first-time fundraiser so successful.
“It means a lot more toys for kids here at the Christmas bureau,” she said, emphasizing that it’s the impact this kindness has on Langley children that motivate many of the long-time volunteers and donors to keep giving.
“It’s a fantastic day, and I’m very pleased with how it worked out,” she concluded.
A day after the breakfast, organizers issued a press release, and in part broke down the event numbers.
The response was “overwhelming” said City Mayor Ted Schaffer.
There were apparently more than 1,000 community members at the charitable event who donated in excess of 2,500 toys, $1165 in gift cards, and $5,000 in cash.
“For Langley’s first annual Children’s Wish Breakfast, the response from the community was unbelievable and encouraging,” Schaffer said.
“I was so moved that we received such a remarkable response from the community in the first year,” he added.
“We couldn’t have done this without all of our great community partners who made this event possible including Newlands, Langley RCMP, Langley City Fire Rescue Service, the Langley Times and Langley Advance, and the many event sponsors such as RS Line Construction and CKF Inc. I would like to personally thank the sponsors and people who made all of this possible for Langley families this holiday season.”