Melanie Dyke and her friend Jan Fox brought an armful of gifts to the Christmas Wish Breakfast at Newlands Golf & Country early Tuesday morning.
They were among an estimated record number of 3,000 who came loaded down with gifts for the third annual fundraising event in aid of the Langley Christmas Bureau.
“We’re here to support the Children’s Wish [Breakfast], so we brought some toys,” Dyke said.
“I personally brought something I thought my grandchildren would love, and a family game – because that’s always a good thing to do,” she explained, after dropping her load at the foot of a makeshift Christmas tree consisting entirely of donated toys.
This was Fox’s second time to the breakfast, and she’s glad she’s made this a seasonal tradition.
“It’s just to support my community and get into the Christmas spirit,” Fox said.
Guests were invited to bring new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children newborn to age 18. In exchange for a donation to the Christmas bureau, Newlands offered a free buffet breakfast inside the banquet hall, where guests could visit with Santa, listen to live music, and share in the merriment of the season.
For those unable to take part in the festivities – but who were still anxious to give – Langley City fire chief Rory Thompson and a team of his firefighters were set up outside, in the parking lot accepting donations.
They created the equivalent of a donation drive-thru where visitors didn’t even have to get out of their cars to give. Firefighters simply swapped out toys, gifts, or cash contributions for a coffee and breakfast to-go.
Former City mayor Ted Schaffer, and his wife Jean, who have been key volunteers with the bureau for several years now, were also on hand welcoming guests and thanking supporters.
For the former mayor, participating in the breakfast and helping the bureau is about “helping those families who would otherwise not have a Christmas.”
“It’s a great event,” added Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek, as she watched with “some amazement” at the influx of toys and gifts people flooded into Newlands.
“We really, really want to make children’s Christmases better,” she said. And that goal was achieved, in spades.
“Our community always comes together at this time of the year and we’re so very proud of all of them…” van den Broek said.
Last year’s event saw 2,000 guests. While it was still too early for exact numbers, organizers predicted a much larger crowd of about 3,000.
“It was way busier this year than last year, it was constant,” said bureau co-chair Donalda Whaites.
Likewise, last year, there were about 1,200 toys and $4,000 in cash and gift cards dropped off for the bureau. And given the predicted increase in attendance, bureau co-chair Velma MacAllister forecasts an increase in donations – as well.
“Today’s important because the gifts that you give us today they go to families that aren’t as lucky and as wonderfully blessed as we are.”
More photos of the event can be viewed online.