On Christmas Day, Erica Beckstead will return to the streets of Whalley to give the homeless some gifts, and she needs some help.
The Fleetwood-area resident organizes the annual Whalley Santa Cause event, which involves handing out hampers full of toiletries, winter clothing and other items.
Donations are needed, along with some additional volunteers.
“A couple days ago I had only a few donations, and I’m freaking out,” Beckstead said Wednesday.
“Getting a story done (in this newspaper) is usually what kick-starts the donations, and we really need them this year. I have enough for only 20 people right now.
“I was almost going to cancel it today, but we’re going to do it,” she added. “It needs to be done.”
Last year, four dozen volunteers helped hand out nearly 600 hampers to Surrey residents in need.
On Tuesday (Dec. 25), Beckstead encourages volunteers to meet her for a couple of hours in the afternoon, starting at 1 p.m. at Gateway SkyTrain Station – “on the street by the taxis,” she writes in a Whalley Santa Cause Facebook event post.
More details are also posted on a website, whalleysantacause.yolasite.com.
Beckstead, a former drug addict now working as a makeup artist, launched the initiative in 2011. By then, she’d collected small soap and shampoo bottles from hotels in her job-related travels aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train.
“One day I thought, ‘What am I going to do with all this soap?’” she said at the time. “That’s when I came to the realization of giving back to my community. I wanted to make a small difference in the lives of others. So I started wrapping all my hotel toiletries into beautifully wrapped (Christmas) hampers.”
That first year, she and three other volunteers put together 50 hampers for Whalley’s homeless population.
“This year we’ll do the same route we always do in Whalley, the Strip, right, but also they’ve gone into the modular housing, which is good,” Beckstead noted. “But I went there a few days ago and some of them are still looking disheveled. It’s quite a community, and they still need this stuff. They went from tents into this housing, which look like portables. The need is still there.”
To help, Beckstead can be reached by phone, 778-233-4344.