Langley Christmas Bureau doors opening soon

The pumpkins may still be standing guard on the porch in early November when Langley starts working on its major Christmas campaign.

On Nov. 3, the Langley Christmas Bureau opens for the season. The satellite office in Aldergrove opens Nov. 4 at Unit 104 26956 Fraser Hwy. at the Avia Employment Services office again.

The biggest change is a new location for the main operation.

With the sale of its former site, the Coast Capital Credit Union buildings, the bureau has moved to a site that was in the past the SAAN and Fields stores, Unit 307 20300 Fraser Hwy.

“We’re happy with this space because we can concentrate everything,” said co-chair Leigh Castron.

It’s not easy finding a place to run this massive gift drive.

“We start in August looking for a place,” explained Jim McGregor, the other co-chair of the volunteer Christmas bureau. “It’s nice to have something that’s close to the bus routes and in the downtown.”

The Langley Christmas Bureau provided toys, books and Christmas gifts for 1,650 children in 803 families last holiday season. Castron said all indications are that the need has increased this year.

They check around with social service and charity agencies in the community, and they’ve reported increased need for their services.

Everyone involved at the Langley Christmas Bureau, about 100 people in all, are volunteers. Langley is rare in having an entirely volunteer Christmas bureau. Most communities have had to resort to paid staff for at least some of the positions.

In Langley, the bureau is in the enviable position of having to turn away volunteers because the people who help out return year after year.

They not only run the registration, screening and toy distribution at the downtown Langley and Aldergrove offices but also initiatives around the community.

The Gifts for Kids program will be in the Willowbrook Shopping Centre from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14 and is a vital way to elicit donations of toys, gifts and funds.

“Towards the end [of the Christmas bureau campaign] they’re going twice a day” to load up donations and bring them back to the main office for sorting, noted McGregor.

Gifts for Kids gives a very visible presence to the Christmas bureau. Many families have made stopping by the display a holiday tradition.

“We’ve got second and third generation people coming to that,” he said.

The Langley Christmas Bureau will also, like the others around the region, receive a load of toys from the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau and is a recipient of $20,000 in support from the Vancouver Province Empty Stocking Fund.

The Christmas bureau is a six-figure operation not possible with strong community support.

There’s already been a fundraiser – Chairs for Charity on Oct. 23 and more are being readied for November and December. The Mayors Wives Tea is set for Nov. 23 at the Coast Hotel and Convention Centre. Tickets are $25 per person and available starting Nov. 1 at the Christmas bureau, the Birthplace of B.C. Gallery in Fort Langley, and online (wwww.thankyouforcaringachristmastea.com).

Source Office Furnishings has donated office items again this year for use. A couple of volunteers from City hall set up the computers and phone system and

Premier Moving and Storage provides space for the bureau, even providing trucking to and from its storage facility.

This year staff from a Starbucks and Wagner Hills Farms did the heavy lifting, unloading the items in storage and helped set up the office.

Registrations for gifts for children from birth to 18 are accepted until Dec. 17.

Toy Depot Days are set for Dec. 15, 16 and 17 then the Christmas bureau shuts down until next year.

Learn more at www.langleychristmasbureau.com including how to donate, sponsoring a family or obtaining gifts for children of needy families.

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