SUBMITTED PHOTO: Brenda Lee and her daughter Chrystie McClurg are preparing Christmas food and gift packages for 10 families in need.

The spirit of giving, while remembering those we’ve lost

Annual ‘Coleton Clause’ and ‘Ryker’s Reindeer’ helps 10 families this Christmas

An Aldergrove mother and daughter who both lost their sons are keeping their fond memories of their children alive by making Christmas special for those in need.

Brenda Lee and her daughter Chrystie Mcclurg are now working on their sixth annual “Coleton Clause and Ryker’s Reindeer” memorial fundraiser, which delivers Christmas presents and food for three months to families in need in the community.

Just two days before Christmas the duo will deliver carloads of Christmas cheer to 10 families in the area. Over the six years they have made Christmas special for 70 families.

“We’re making something good out of something horrible,” says Brenda. “Doing good in honour of our sons, taken tragically from us at such a young age.”

Brenda and Wayne’s son Coleton lost his life in a car crash on Feb. 18, 2011, and Chrystie and Jake’s son Ryker passed away of illness exactly five years later to the day.

Colton was a 12 year old who was active in the community with the Aldergrove Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) as well as with BMX bikes and basketball. Every year the AMHA hosts an invitational tournament named in his honour, which also collects non-perishable food products for the charity.

Ryder was 19 months old when he passed away in 2016, and since that time the tournament and charity has grown to also honour his memory.

The annual fundraiser held every June at the Nelson’s family’s Otter Road acreage raised $6,000 this year. With the donated non-perishable food Brenda says the value of the gift packages to each of the 10 families works out to about $1,000 for each family.

“I think we’ll have enough left over to do a ‘Secret Santa’ for someone else in need in the community,” says Brenda.

Brenda says she works with the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau because they carefully screen applicants to ensure their needs are genuine. Brenda then speaks with the family head, usually a single mother, to ascertain the needs and desires of each child in the family, to make the gifts as personal as possible.

“Sometimes other things are needed, such as blankets if it’s cold in the home.

“We provide enough food for about three months because it’s not just at Christmas that they are hungry. We don’t give gift cards either, we deliver just before Christmas so we can include perishables such as vegetables and meat.”

Brenda was touched by a letter she received three years ago from a mother she had helped the previous Christmas.

“She said we helped change their lives around and she now had a steady job and was getting married to a wonderful man. That meant a lot to us.”

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