December 1, 2023

Yearly across the holidays, the Surrey Christmas Bureau helps as much as 2,000 households with grocery present playing cards and toys.

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The Surrey Christmas Bureau nearly didn’t have a house this yr.

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Yearly across the holidays, the charity helps as much as 2,000 households with grocery present playing cards and toys. That’s a variety of toys, and the group must put them someplace.

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Happily, on the final minute, the bureau was in a position to get its outdated digs again within the former Safeway advanced at 10355 King George Blvd.

“We didn’t discover out about that until mid-September, and we wish to be in our headquarters by the start of October,” mentioned Lisa Werring, the bureau’s government director. “So there was a little bit of a panic. However area is getting more durable and more durable to search out right here in Surrey. The event is rising at such a tempo right here that the type of constructing that we want is more and more tough to search out. Particularly in central Surrey, which is the place we actually should be.”

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They moved in “within the nick of time” on Nov. 14.

The Surrey Christmas Bureau is B.C.’s largest non-denominational Christmas charity, serving about 2,000 low-income households (together with over 4,500 youngsters) annually. In 2021, the bureau offered nearly $190,000 in grocery vouchers to households in want or over 21,000 meals.

Among the cash for these vouchers comes from The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund. Now in its 104th yr, the ESF depends upon donations from readers to assist Decrease Mainland charities and Christmas bureaus lending a serving to over the vacations.

“The help that we get from the Empty Stocking Fund and The Province readers is key,” Werring mentioned.

Volunteers from Guildford Park secondary school present people with gifts from the Surrey Christmas Bureau.
Volunteers from Guildford Park secondary faculty current individuals with presents from the Surrey Christmas Bureau. Photograph by Francis Georgian /PNG

The variety of households appears to be rising annually, she says.

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“I imply, we’re nonetheless accepting purposes,” she informed Postmedia Information every week after transferring into the brand new outdated location. “We’re at over 1,800 requests for assist already, and our deadline for purposes is Dec. 2. So I totally anticipate to see over 2,000 requests for assist this yr. It’s growing year-over-year.”

The bureau was at simply over 1,800 households whole for 2021.

With Surrey a hub for brand spanking new Canadians, the bureau sees greater than its share of immigrant households in want.

“I anticipate to see some households from Ukraine come by means of this yr,” she mentioned. “I’ve acquired some calls from businesses which can be working to resettle Ukrainian households.”

This yr, like many organizations, the bureau goes again into in-person mode following two years of tight COVID-19 restrictions. This implies drawing on the 300 or so volunteers, like Victor and Jenny Wong. The couple has been married for 50 years, and volunteering with the SCB for seven.

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“Every single day it’s a distinct situation,” Victor mentioned. “Nevertheless it will get so busy throughout December that it’s mind-boggling.”

Probably the most gratifying a part of volunteering is seeing the seems to be on youngsters’s faces when he arms them a toy.

“I all the time seize a teddy bear and provides it to them,” he mentioned. “They’ve by no means seen something prefer it. Their dad and mom must inform them, ‘Say thanks.’”

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