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Christmas hamper receives hundreds of new toys after WCE Santa Train rolls through Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Donations down from 2019, the last time the event was held before the COVID-19 pandemic
Hundreds of people boarded the West Coast Express Santa Train at the Port Haney location on Dec. 3, 2022. (Brandon Tucker/The News)

Unprecedented numbers took the West Coast Express Santa Train on the weekend, with riders donating hundreds of toys and cash to the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society in exchange for a ride to Vancouver.

However, despite the numbers, the amount of donations to the society were down this year compared to the amount that was donated in 2019 – the last Santa Train that took place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said society board chair Tina Kirkpatrick.

From the three stations the Christmas Hamper Society received 373 new, unwrapped toys, and $400 in cash donations.

In 2019 the total from the three stations was 560 toys and $557.

Jawn Jang, spokesperson for TransLink noted that the West Coast Express Santa Train had a total of 1,262 passengers on the weekend.

“We are delighted to have reintroduced the West Coast Express Santa Train. We are very proud that in addition to being a fun, welcoming experience, the Santa Train provides customers with an opportunity to make a difference by way of donations to their local Christmas bureaus. Thank you to everyone who helped to organize this event, everyone who donated, and everyone who chose to take your journey with us,” said Jang on behalf of TransLink.

Of the total, 410 customers were from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows – with 91 passengers boarding the train at Port Haney station, 77 at Maple Meadows, and 16 at Pitt Meadows Station – on Saturday, Dec. 3. On Sunday, Dec. 4, there were 62 customers who boarded at Port Haney, 139 at Maple Meadows and 25 at Pitt Meadows Station.

An extra $582 in cash donations was also raised by the Christmas hamper society at the Christmas festival in Memorial Peace Park this year, the first time the society has taken part in the festival in more than a decade said Kirkpatrick.

“It was good exposure for us,” said Kirkpatrick, adding their table had photos and write ups so people could read about their programs.

“I think it is important for us to be seen in the community as a group, as a community service,” she said.

READ MORE: West Coast Express Santa Train sees unprecedented turnout in Maple Ridge

ALSO: Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows firefighters to have boots out for charity

Kirkpatrick wants to remind residents of both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows that Firefighters for Families is taking place this weekend in support of both the Christmas Hamper Society and the Friends In Need Food Bank.

Around 50 firefighters in Maple Ridge will be taking part in the annual event – collecting cash donations; non-perishable food donations; and new, unwrapped toy donations.

Maple Ridge firefighters will be out in front of all three Save-On-Foods locations, No Frills Supermarket, FreshCo, and Walmart. In Pitt Meadows, around 25 firefighter will be volunteering their time, and they will be at the Save-On-Foods, Shoppers Drug Mart, Starbucks, and at the Meadowtown Centre they will be in front of Superstore, the BC Liquor Store, and Tim Horton’s.

The Maple Ridge fire department’s boot drive will take place from 10- 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, the Pitt Meadows drive will take place from 10-3:30 p.m. on the same day.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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