The mandate of the Langley Christmas Bureau seems simple enough.
“We make Christmas for children,” explained Donalda Whaites, one of the two bureau coordinators.
She and Velma MacAllister are the lead elves at the local organization that helps Langley Township and City families.
“We are friends and family with people in need,” MacAllister said. “We help them make Christmas that much brighter and happier.”
But the nuts and bolts of how they accomplish that is the magic of the local volunteer-run Christmas bureau.
It starts with an army of volunteers most of whom return year after year. They have their tasks down pat.
There’s also the community that supports the last Christmas bureau in the Lower Mainland that is entirely volunteer.
“They are so generous every year,” MacAllister said about the Langleys.
That strong base of support matters because more and more people are struggling financially. The need can be tracked alongside that of food banks. Whaites and MacAllister said based on what they have heard from the food bank, the demand for Christmas bureau help will be up this holiday season.
“Every week they have new numbers, [an increase] of new people, so I think we’ll be up,” MacAllister said.
The bureau gets some very welcome help from various sectors.
Premier Moving and Storage stores the bureau’s extra toys and office supplies, and transports them to the bureau each year.
Sources Office Supply provides desks, chairs and other equipment, and Langley City staff handle the paperwork and accounting. On the day the bureau set up recently, City Mayor Ted Schaffer and his wife, Jean, were in the thick of things, helping get the office ready to accept donations and registrations.
During the holidays, various groups such as the Langley Lions and First Capital barbershop chorus hold fundraisers. The Lions will be out with their donation kettles over the holidays. The chorus organizes local singers into the Christmas Bureau Community Chorus and has its concert on Dec. 14 at 20525 72nd Ave.
Newlands Golf Course along with several partners and sponsors is holding the second annual Children’s Wish Breakfast on Nov. 27.
TWEET from the inaugural breakfast in 2017:
Langley residents are giving generously this morning at the 1st #langleywishbreakfast. Stop by Newlands before 9:30 am with a new toy or cash donation for the Langley Christmas Bureau, you’ll help make the holiday bright for a child in our #community. #givingtuesdayCA pic.twitter.com/Xd6VVIHv4q
— Envision Financial (@EnvisionFin) November 28, 2017
On Dec. 11, Star Wars characters will be at Toy Traders for a photo fundraiser for the bureau.
The annual Thanks for Caring – A Christmas Tea Fundraiser is slated for Nov. 25 this year but tickets sold out back in October. (A waitlist has been step up through the Facebook page.)
The Langley Literacy Association provides books that are given out at the Christmas bureau, and a local woman holds a Jammie Drive to round up cozy nightwear for kids.
The public can help by dropping off donations at the bureau, or the Aldergrove satellite office, or the table at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, attending one of the holiday fundraisers by community groups.
The bureau also allows people to sponsor a family. The donors are told the ages of the children in the family so they can shop for appropriate items.
The Langley City bureau office is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday at #120-19860 Langley Bypass. The Aldergrove office (inside the Avia office at 26956 Fraser Hwy.) is open Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Toy depot days, when parents pick out gifts, are Dec. 17, 18 and 19 and the bureau closes at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19.