Willowbrook Shopping Centre’s charity gift wrap and coat/parcel check centre runs until Dec. 24.

Busy hands at mall help Langley students

Volunteers offer their time and their gift wrapping skills at Willowbrook Shopping Centre.

Saturday, Dec. 12 was a hectic day for Walnut Grove Secondary School teacher-librarian Joanie Proske.

On one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Proske, along with some WGSS students past and present, had their hands full volunteering at Willowbrook Shopping Centre’s charity gift wrap and coat/parcel check centre.

This is Proske’s fourth year wrapping gifts at Langley’s mall, and she returns each year to support a cause that, in turn, supports her school.

“The Langley [School District] Foundation makes it possible for different groups within the school district to participate here, and then raise some funds for different functions that they’re doing,” Proske said. “Some groups might be going on a humanitarian trip, some are with the drama department…”

Shoppers who have their gifts wrapped and coats/parcels checked from Dec. 7 to 24 will help the Langley School District Foundation, with 100 per cent of the proceeds from the services benefiting the foundation which supports school programs for Langley students.

In the case of Proske and WGSS students and alumni, they’re lending their gift-wrapping talents for the school’s library.

“Last year we managed to buy manga [Japanese comic books], and spinners [book racks], and graphic novels for our library,” Proske said.

The funds raised during the holiday season is pooled together by the foundation and then distributed around the district.

Proske said wrapping gifts at the mall is equal parts fun and hard work.

On Saturday morning, Proske shared the group had an order “that was the stuff legends are made of.”

“We had a shopping cart with 21 huge presents, I don’t know what the guy’s Toys ‘R’ Us bill was, but we wrapped 21 presents and the shopping cart was overflowing,” Proske said. “It was a wonderful order and it’s nice to know the public supports us that way.”

People drop off items for wrapping for different reasons, Proske believes.

“It might be time: some people are going from here to something and they need to have [gifts] wrapped, but there are a lot of gentlemen who aren’t quite confident with their wrapping skills.”

Most importantly, she added, people want to support the foundation “and the good work that they do.”

Among those helping out Saturday afternoon was WGSS Grade 12 student Josh Hall and 2012 grad Grace Li.

Hall admitted he’s not the best wrapper: “I’m kind of in the middle but I’m volunteering for the library, to support it, get some funds in.”

Li was a library assistant while at WGSS and is close to Proske, which is the reason behind her spending part of her Saturday wrapping gifts at the mall.

“I really like wrapping things, so this has been a lot of fun for me,” the UBC student added. “This has always been my winter ‘finals’ season at school, so it’s kind of nice to have a day off where I’m not studying.”

The centre is located next to Aldo in the mall. Gift wrap services start at $3 and all wrap, ribbon, and bags are eco-friendly.

Coat/parcel check services are available for shoppers. The cost is $2 per item and also benefits the foundation.

Eco-friendly alternatives

A large amount of wrapping paper, especially paper with lots of tape attached to it, used over the holidays oftentimes ends up in the landfill.

To stay environmentally friendly during the season, Langley Environmental Partners executive director Nichole Marples has these suggestions:

• Try not to use too much tape when wrapping gifts, and remove the tape afterwards so the wrapping paper can be used again; and

• Use gift wrap alternatives such as newspaper (which can be recycled), scarves or fabric, reusable cloth bags, towels, and plain kraft paper.

“As long as it is not overly taped, it can go in recycling bin afterwards,” Marples said.

As well, she suggested, consider gift certificates which can be inserted into a card and don’t require wrapping paper.

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