COVID-19 can’t stop a group of dedicated local volunteers from making Christmas merrier for disadvantaged children.
The Langley Christmas Bureau may not be able to hold its traditional Toy Depot Days to distribute gifts, but the all-volunteer squad is tackling the problem a different way, for the second Christmas in a row. Children who might not otherwise have holiday celebrations will receive gift cards, and their families receive grocery store gift cards. The children also receive books from the Langley Literacy Network.
“The Christmas bureau provides funds to enable lower income families to have a Christmas celebration with food and toys for their children,” explained Patty Lester.
She and Judy Hutmacher, volunteers with the bureau, have taken on the role of coordinators after one of the previous heads of the local charity moved to Alberta and the other passed away.
“Applicants apply by phone, previous year’s applicants are also phoned by our volunteers enquiring if they need our services,” she said. “The main requirements for our help is that they have children who are aged from birth to 18 years old (as long as they are still attending high school.) They must provide proof of a Langley/Aldergrove residence, a Care Card, and proof of monthly income.”
Applicants pick up their gift certificates at a scheduled time at the Langley City Hall, the same process that the bureau used last year.
“We are expecting at least 700 families to apply this year, possibly more than 2020,” Lester noted.
Registrations started on Nov. 1 and will continue through Dec. 11.
Certificate days started Nov. 12 and will continue to Dec. 1. The bureau is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturdays, Dec. 4 and 11. Volunteers can be reached by phone 604-530-3001 with any questions.
“Most of our volunteers are returnees from previous years and we have been working on this year’s program since October,” she said.
Many of the bureau’s activities and fundraisers hosted by others in the community cannot take place, but the bureau welcomes financial donations.
“We will not be having the Christmas Breakfast at Newlands this year, nor the Gifts for Kids Christmas Tree [at Willowbrook Shopping Centre], but the community has been very generous in the past, and we are hoping to raise $280,000 this year.”
Complete details as well as applications for those needing to register to receive gifts and those wanting to help brighten a child’s Christmas are available at langleychristmasbureau.com.