While the holiday season got off to a rocky start for the Surrey Christmas Bureau, the magic is now alive and well inside the walls of their new home.
A new toy depot site was secured in October after it was discovered thieves had destroyed the old Stardust building they previously operating out of along City Parkway.
Fabricana stepped up to offer its property at 13853 104th Ave., the former Funky Monkey play centre.
While there may be fewer elves buzzing about the operation, and COVID-19 had meant some new protocols, the operation is already in full swing.
“The vast majority of our volunteer base are retirees, and they are particularly vulnerable to COVID,” said bureau boss Lisa Werring. “So we’re operating with a skeleton crew. But the Guildford Park Secondary co-op class are here doing their rotations and they’re saving the day. They’re helping us build toy hampers and are a big part of the story. It’s Christmas magic.”
Registration for clients has moved online this year, due to the pandemic, explained Werring.
“We’ve got roughly 1,300 in now and more are being submitted every day,” she said. “That’s been going well. The response has been good and people are liking it, especially not having to stand in line in the rain.”
Unlike other years, clients of the bureau don’t come inside the building to pick up their presents. Instead, curbside pick-up has been instituted and “toy hampers” are being given out.
And while the operation is running smoothly thus far, Werring said the bureau is in dire need of donations.
“Toys, toys, toys,” she told the Now-Leader. “We need toys. We’re already in the distribution phase and we’re running through our inventory from last year very quickly. We need toys for all ages, but unusually this year, we need toys for both boys and girls in the age 9 to 12 category.”
“Donations can also be done over the phone, or online,” she said. “And in person at the christmas bureau, but masks are mandatory of course.”
Meantime, Werring said the Surrey Christmas Bureau’s Adopt-A-Family program is still running this year.
“We have a limited crew working in that department, they’re working out of my admin office so they’re distanced away from us. We normally have eight ladies who man that department, but there’s just two this year. They’re working as fast as they can,” she said.
For that program this year amid the pandemic, Werring said the bureau is “advising sponsors to do no-contact delivery, kind of like Door Dash or Skip the Dishes.”
“Some of them have had some fun ideas, similar to the ‘wine ninja’ thing,” she chuckled. “Some are thinking they’ll dress up in costume, deliver the package, ring the bell, back up, sing a Christmas carol and all that.”
“We’re just encouraging everyone to stay safe,” she said.
“It’s been a challenging season to say the least,” Werring added. “Every day is a new adventure.”
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