Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, a team of elves are busily stocking the Toy Shop’s shelves in the old Sears store location at the Amazing Brentwood.
Donations of new, unwrapped toys are being readied for distribution to low-income families through the Burnaby Christmas Bureau program, a community tradition since 1980. But more than helping to make the holidays a little brighter for Burnaby’s most vulnerable residents, the Christmas Bureau aims to help those it serves feel welcome in the community.
“The mission is connection,” says Jill Sakamoto, director of operations at Burnaby Neighbourhood House, the umbrella organization for Burnaby Community Services. “Families are just struggling to pay their rent and to have a basic meal. There are all of these stressors, and what we like to do is provide that helping hand and a place where people can feel comfortable – to be a part of the community in caring and giving.”
The Christmas Bureau supported over 3,150 people last year. The need is even greater now as the ongoing pandemic, along with escalating food and rent costs, has increased the number of vulnerable people in Burnaby. Hundreds of volunteers and staff are working together to provide food gift cards, hampers, gifts and toys, but they can’t do it on their own.
Here’s how you can help:
Spread cheer with a carousel ride
Ring in the holidays at Bright in Burnaby, the official launch of Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum on Saturday, Dec. 2. The festive fun is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a special tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Proceeds during the night from the carousel rides will go to the Burnaby Christmas Bureau with Concord Pacific matching donations.
Sponsor a Senior’s Gift Hamper
Bring hope and happiness to a senior or senior couple in your community. Sponsors will be directly connected with their senior for a friendly chat, wish list and personal delivery of a hamper of gifts, groceries and other much needed items.
Build a Toy Mountain
Help to create a mammoth mountain of toys. Burnaby Firefighters Society is hosting this toy drive in Metropolis at Metrotown, Ground Level, near Victoria’s Secret store. Come by for 3D photos with firefighters and drop off your toy donation or make a cash donation for the Christmas Bureau on Saturday, Dec. 9, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The first 100 toy drive entries will receive a $10 Metropolis at Metrotown gift card, and each donation counts as an entry in the draw to get a chance to win a $100 Metropolis at Metrotown gift card.
New, unwrapped toys can also be dropped off at the Toy Room at the Amazing Brentwood, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to Dec 19.
Host an Angel Toy Drive
Hold a toy drive and encourage donations from friends, co-workers or clients. The Angel Project partners with individuals and corporations who host a toy collection, providing printable posters, cards and a wish list of gifts, as well as pickup and delivery of gifts to the Toy Room between Dec. 4 and 15.
Be a Christmas Elf
If you’re 16 or older, the Christmas Bureau can use your help in assisting families with their selections in the Toy Room, from Dec. 1 to 21. Volunteer drivers are also needed to pick up toys from donors and deliver them to the Toy Room in December.
If you are interested in supporting the Burnaby Christmas Bureau, or if you’d like to volunteer, visit bbyservices.ca/christmas to learn more.