The Langley Christmas Bureau ended up helping the same number of families this year as last â€“ about 800 â€“ but the number of children helped grew to more than 1,700 (compared to about 1,650 last year).
â€œWe have 160 new families that applied this year,â€ said bureau co-chair Leigh Castron.
Who uses the Langley Christmas Bureau?
â€œA lot of working poor,â€ Castron said. â€œWe see a lot of that.â€
â€œ[There are] a lot of single dads,â€ she said, â€œand the majority are single moms.â€
The Langley Christmas Bureau is the only bureau in the Lower Mainland that is entirely volunteer run. That has resulted in callers from as far as the North Shore all the way out to Chilliwack contacting the bureau to offer donations. Castron said people are encouraged to support their local bureaus but some people say they want to donate to Langley because it is all volunteer.
Castron said itâ€™s the large group of volunteers who return year after year that makes the operation run smoothly.
â€œThe dedication and consistency of our volunteers is just unreal,â€ she said. â€œAnd the community â€“ we just couldnâ€™t do it without the support.â€
Children, adults, service clubs, arts groups, businesses and more support the bureau.
Castron noted that in addition to giving out gifts for families with children up to age 18, the bureau offers something unique.
The Langley Literacy Association provides books to the children.
â€œWeâ€™re the only Christmas bureau that has that,â€ Castron said.
The association has been providing books for several years and members attend Toy Depot Days when the gifts are picked up by parents. Association members work with the parents to choose books that would interest their children.
Other community supporters have been Cascades Casino which provides lunches for the volunteers while the bureau is open and Starbucks. The coffee company provides beverages and breakfast foods for the bureau for the month and a half that itâ€™s in operation during the holiday season. The head of Starbucks western Canada, the head of Starbucks in B.C., and other senior management volunteered at Toy Depot Days this year.
Another sign of support for the Christmas bureau is the sponsorship where people, businesses or groups provide gifts and support for a specific family.
â€œWe have more sponsors that ever,â€ Castron said.
This year 267 sponsors helped 479 families.
â€œThatâ€™s a record for us,â€ she added.