Donalda Whaites and Velma MacAllister oversaw the Langley Christmas Bureau for the 2016 season.

Langley’s Christmas bureau elves make the season bright for many

The Langley Christmas Bureau is packed away, set to return to spread Christmas cheer in late 2017.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

The Langley Christmas Bureau does one better on the old slogan.

“It takes a whole community to bring Christmas to all,” said Langley bureau co-ordinator Donalda Whaites.

The Christmas bureau, with help from the community, brought the holiday spirit to 1,650 children this year. The bureau’s gifts went to 363 families from the City and 357 families from Township.

“This was a wonderful season for the Langley Christmas Bureau.  The community gave overwhelming support in donations of toys and money.  We live in a fabulous community where businesses, organizations, schools and individual people step up to make Christmas a special time for children in need,” she said.

Langley’s bureau is entirely volunteer run.

“It takes the whole community to make the Christmas bureau a success and this year was not exception,” Whaites said. “We had about 100 volunteers who gave of their time and many who took time off work to help.”

The bureau volunteers once again showed they were up to any challenge. They are accustomed to tailoring their work to people from around the world.

In recent months Langley became home to many new residents who were forced to flee from Syria.

“Helping the Syrian families was special as this is their first Christmas in Canada,” she said. “Patience and an interpreter made it all come together.”

Instead of providing the traditional Christmas turkey, as part of the gift package, the bureau would provide gift cards so the families could purchase the foods they want.

“Even though you may not celebrate the ‘Christ’ in Christmas, Christmas is part of our Canadian culture and most people celebrate it one way or another. People of all cultures wished us a Merry Christmas.”

In addition to the strong and consistent community support for the volunteer-run Langley bureau, it receives help through the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau and the many groups and organizations that contribute to Langley and other area bureaus.

This year TransLink and its operating companies donated more than 6,100 toys for the 31st annual Toys for Tots campaign, nearly double the 2015 amount.

The Langley bureau works with the Langley Literacy Network to provide books for all the families it helps and other local charities and agencies to help fill any gaps in coverage. The bureau doesn’t provide for families without children but the Gateway of Hope has programs during the holiday season that help adults receive the spirit of the season.

PHOTO: Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer helped gather up the bureau belongings on Dec. 14. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

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