The committee members who organized a Christmas Haven in Maple Ridge last year. (Contributed)

Christmas Haven as good or better than ever

Annual, free event again on Christmas Eve for those who don’t wish to be alone.

A Christmas Haven returns to Maple Ridge for its 21st holiday season.

It will again be held on Dec. 24 from 6-9 p.m. at The ACT in Maple Ridge.

Every Christmas Eve since 1998, a group of community-minded volunteers organizes a free, non-denominational, and wheelchair accessible Christmas dinner, promoting a sense of belonging and camaraderie for those who don’t wish to be alone during the Christmas season.

The event welcomes families, seniors and individuals who are seeking a connection to the community at this time of year.

Christmas Haven is free and provides a festive atmosphere for guests along with a turkey dinner and fixings, local entertainment, children’s activities and a visit from Santa.

No reservations are required.

READ ALSO: Christmas Haven brings community together.

The Christmas Haven is 100 per cent volunteer-driven, operated by a dedicated steering committee and is only made possible through the outstanding generosity of the community.

Last year, the event drew 70 volunteers and 230 guests.

This year organizers are expecting between 230 and 290.

“We are always prepared for 300 guests and leftover dinners and desserts are happily taken away by many guests,” said Alyson Cuthbertson, chair of the event.”

The rest of the food is taken back to Ridge-Meadows Salvation Army, so no waste.”

Currently, volunteers are collecting gifts for children, as well as teens and adults.

Suggestions for children 11 and under: books, toys, games, tuques and mittens.

For teens and adults: toques, scarves, socks, gloves, $5 gift cards for Tim Hortons and MacDonald’s.

“For children ages infant to 11, any fun gifts for them are appreciated,” Cuthbertson added. “We love seeing the children’s faces light up when they open their Santa gift. It’s quite magical.”

Donations can be dropped off at Temptations Salon in Maple Ridge, 22470 Dewdney Trunk Rd., and Tuscany Salon and Spa in Pitt Meadows, 19164 McMyn Rd.

“Both businesses have provided this service for seven years. We appreciate their support,” Cuthbertson said.

Monetary donations can be mailed or dropped off at the Christmas Haven office, in the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, 11925 Haney Place, or call to arrange pickup.

Food for the evening is prepared by the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows ministers.

“We are celebrating our 21st year and every year is as good or better than the past. I’m happy that the event is getting great recognition in the community – this is due to the commitment of our committee volunteers to ensure each year is special for everyone.”

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