With registration numbers climbing daily, Donalda Whaites and her elves at the Langley Christmas Bureau are reaching crisis mode when it comes to collecting enough kids toys and gifts in time.
People always enjoy buying toys and gifts for the younger children, she explained. But every year of her 11-year history with the bureau, Whaites has had to ask for help bringing in toys and gifts for the older kids.
This time around, however – given earlier than normal hamper distribution dates due to school holidays, plus an expected surge in families in need – attributed in large part to an influx of Syrian refugee families, Whaites has reached a level of desperation she’s not seen before.
“There’s more work, and there’s more children,” this year, Whaites said. That means, she needs donations immediately – and more than ever before.
Predicting the bureau will be providing gifts and stocking stuffers for close to 2,000 children this holiday season, she’s pleading for help from the community.
With only a few days left to accept toys and gifts for children – newborn to 18 years old – Whaites said there are some definite shortfalls.
Specifically, she’s needing toys and gifts for both boys and girls, ages 10 to 15.
Offering just a few suggestions, she said items such as headphones, Lego items, Nerf products, sports equipment, nail products, cool hoodies (with appropriate logos), and iTunes, Willowbrook Shopping Centre, Wal-Mart, and Toys ‘R’ Us gift cards – not exceeding $30 – are all welcome ideas.
All she asks is that people refrain from donating stuffed animals, and “we don’t need any more dolls or Barbies this year,” Whaites added.
For the older kids, 16 to 18 years old, they each receive a $30 Willowbrook gift card – allowing them to buy at a variety of different merchants.
She could use some help on that front, as well.
She and the toy shoppe elves are also need more stocking stuffers: “little things like colouring books, socks, decks of cards, ball caps, hair accessories, little kids toys, anything appropriate for the stockings,” she said. “We’re not talking expensive stuff, we’re talking little, fun things.”
Unwrapped gifts and toys, including cash donations, can be dropped off in the coming week at the bureau office on Eastleigh Crescent (in the former legion building) or at the Christmas Tree in Willowbrook mall.
Tree coordinator Sylvia Anderson and her team will be at the mall from Friday Dec. 2 to 12, but they’re no longer in centre court. They’re now at the north entrance beside SportChek and Starbucks.
Despite all her pleading, Whaites said donations are starting to come in.
One incident touched her earlier this week. A little Langley boy turned one years old recently. In lieu of gifts, his parents asked friends and families to bring a gift or donation for the bureau.
The family walked in with 20 toys and more than $100 in cash, Whaites said.
“Like I said, donations are coming in. This community is always tremendously generous, there’s no doubt about that. It’s just that we need that help to come in early, and I’m hoping people realize the urgency this year.”
For more information, people can call 604-530-3001 or visit: www.langleychristmasbureau.com.