A return to a full live version of the annual Christmas Tea hosted by The Thank You For Caring Society drew 350 people to the Cascades Casino Ballroom Sunday afternoon, Nov. 20.
Charlene Fassbender, co-founder of the event, took a brief break from greeting arrivals to talk about its origins, back when her husband Peter was mayor of Langley City, and she got to know Debbie Froese, whose husband Jack was mayor of the Township of Langley at the time.
Debbie wanted to raise funds for the Langley Christmas Bureau, which helps families in needs over Christmas, by organizing a tea party, Fassbender recalled.
“It was Debbie’s idea,” Fassbender recalled.
It was originally called the Mayors’ Wives Tea, but over the years, the event has grown in size, becoming a charitable society that has so far raised more than $300,000 for Langley families.
It continues to support the Christmas Bureau, but has also donated to other worthy causes like the Aldergrove Starfish Backpack program, The Langley Youth Hub, The Foundry and Langley Lodge Music Therapy program.
“Every year we look for somebody else, to give some money towards a charity in need,” Fassbender told the Langley Advance Times.
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Froese, who passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer, was remembered with affection by many at the Sunday event.
Kim Snow of Kimz Angels homeless charity was wearing a lacy “fascinator” that Froese had convinced her to buy.
“I wear it every year,” Snow told the Langley Advance Times.
“I wear it in her honour.”
Sunday’s event was the first restriction-free version of the annual tea since the pandemic. In order to meet COVID-19 restrictions, the number of guests at the last tea had been limited, with about 200 people turning out.
A single mom who was helped by the Bureau delivered a heartfelt thank-you to the afternoon tea.
Carolyn (who did not want her last name used) recalled how she and her two children needed help “orchestrating Christmas,” and how it was provided by the Bureau’s team of volunteers.
“Thanks a lot,” she said.
In addition to high tea, there were silent and online auctions, and a performance by Steve ‘Elvis’ Elliott.
People can contact the bureau to arrange for toy and monetary donations through the website: langleychristmasbureau.com or by calling 604-530-3001.
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