Teens from Langley’s Vanguard Secondary helped prepare for Wednesday’s opening of the Langley Christmas Bureau, setting up tables and unloading toys. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley Christmas Bureau gears up for Nov. 1 start

Organizers unveil plans for Langley’s own toy drive breakfast Nov. 28 at Newlands.

Langley Christmas Bureau is back, and it’s opening next week – in the same site as last year.

But while the registration offices and toy depot are being set up this week, co-coordinator Donalda Whaites said work has been going on behind the scenes for a few months, with some “exciting” new efforts underway.

New this year, the local bureau has partnered with Newlands Golf & Country Club to host a local Christmas Wish Breakfast.

That’s on the books for Tuesday, Nov. 28, at Newlands from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m.

It’s intended to be similar to the toy drive conducted in Vancouver’s Pan Pacific hotel for the past 30 years, Whaites said, but it will be held closer to home – here in Langley.

“So many people tell us they’d like to participate in the event at Pan Pacific, but it’s too far to travel, or it conflicts with their work schedule. So, we’re hopeful all those people will come and participate in ours, right here in Langley,” Whaites said.

When the Lower Mainland toy drive breakfast started at the Pan Pacific, there were 25 guests. Last year, that event was attended by more than 5,000 people who donated 17 tons of toys, 1,000 bikes, 216 gift cards, and more than $17,000 in donations.

“It’s our first year of doing it,” Whaites said, noting a special committee has been pulled together to help organize the morning festivities.

She’s just hopeful that 500 people can attend the inaugural event.

“In many ways, we’re hoping for more than that, but we have to set a goal and that seems like a reasonable, attainable number,” Whaites added.

“We’re trying to involve our own community” in a Day of Giving event locally, Whaites added.

For every guest who brings a new toy, gift, or donation for the Langley Christmas Bureau that morning, Newlands will be provided a complimentary breakfast.

For those who can’t stick around and eat, enjoy the live entertainment, and be part of the holiday festivities, Langley RCMP and firefighters will be on hand to collect drive through donations.

“This breakfast is going to be really cool,” Whaites said, suggesting – in her capacity as depot organizer – that people might consider gifts for the older children, since that’s always where they run short.

After this year’s Children’s Wish Breakfast, all donations will be transported to “Santa’s workshop” where the Langley Christmas Bureau elves will sort the toys according to age and gender and get ready for toy depot days. Toy distribution happens Dec. 18 to 20 – the week before Christmas break.

Last year, the bureau – which is staffed 100 per cent by volunteers – helped 759 Langley families consisting of 1,700 children.

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Annual tea sold out

Another major bureau fundraiser each year is the Mayors Wives Tea. This Sunday, Nov. 26 event, Whaites said, is already sold out with more than 500 on the attendance list.

And once again the Gifts for Kids Tree will be set up in Willowbrook Shopping Centre, from Nov. 23 to Dec. 17 during regular mall hours.

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How to register

Langley Christmas Bureau is once being set up inside the old Royal Canadian Legion location in downtown Langley – at 20702 Eastleigh Cres.

The bureau opens for registrations starting on Wednesday, Nov. 1, Whaites said. It will be open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for registrations, sponsorships, and donations. It will also be open Saturdays, Dec. 9 and 16 only, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I don’t know where the year went, but this happened very quickly,” Whaites joked.

The team took possession of the Eastleigh Crescent space at the beginning of the week, and work began immediately.

A team of five students from Vanguard Secondary School help with unloading and set up for the toy depot. Office furniture was delivered Wednesday, and computers and phones are being connected in the next few days, with the bureau set to open to the public next week.

In addition to the downtown Langley location, another part-time registration centre is being set up in Aldergrove this year.

With a return to Aldergrove this year, the bureau registration is being done starting Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Avia Employment Centre, 26956 Fraser Hwy.

Aldergrove registrations will be done Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, the bureau office number is 604-530-3001 or more is available online.

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Teens from Langley’s Vanguard Secondary helped prepare for Wednesday’s opening of the Langley Christmas Bureau, setting up tables and unloading toys. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Organizers reopen the Langley Christmas Bureau on Eastleigh Crescent next week, in the meantime they have a new event on the books. There are three co-coordinators again this year, two of which are Donalda Whaites (left) and Velma McAllister. (Langley Advance Files)

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