A free dinner is being cooked for Christmas Eve that is open to all in the community.
The 19th annual Christmas Haven offers a place to be, great food and the companionship of others on what can be considered one of the loneliest nights of the year.
The event is free, non-denominational and wheelchair accessible.
Last year, 290 people were served a hot turkey dinner with all the fixings provided by the Salvation Army, along with live musical entertainment, children’s activities and a visit by Santa Claus.
“That included seniors and families and individuals. New families to the community and from outside the country who actually had never seen Santa before. So that was quite a thrill for their kids,” said Alyson Cuthbertson, chair of Christmas Haven.
No reservations are required.
The entertainment is provided by local entertainers and this year will include the Maple Ridge Dance Circle.
Every patron who wishes to participate will receive a photograph with Santa Claus along with a Christmas present. The photographs are printed at the event and put into a frame to take home.
There will be Christmas-themed crafts for children.
“Something that can go on the tree or they can give as a little gift to someone that they wish. The kids like to do the gifts for their parents, so we also have a little wrapping station for them,” said Cuthbertson.
Christmas Haven was started in 1998 by a group of volunteers with the goal of promoting a sense of belonging and camaraderie for people with little or no support in the community.
There are 60 volunteers who help at the event, in addition to the 12 committee members.
“We always see new faces. But the beauty is we see repeat faces, as well,” said Cuthbertson.
“They come back, they wouldn’t miss it and that is really heartwarming to the committee,” she added.
Santa gifts are currently being collected for children under 10 – books, toys and games – and for adults and teens, such as toques, scarves, gloves, socks and $5 gift cards for local cafés and restaurants.
Donations can be dropped off at Temptations Salon and Spa at 22470 Dewdney Trunk Rd. in Maple Ridge. or at Tuscany Salon and Spa at 19164 McMyn Rd. in Pitt Meadows.
Monetary donations can be dropped off at the Maple Ridge Festivals Office, at 22470 Dewdney Trunk Rd.
Contact Cuthbertson at 604-812-2254 to donate in larger quantities and arrange pick-up.
Christmas Haven takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 24 at the ACT, 11944 Haney Pl. in downtown Maple Ridge.
• For more information, go to http://www.christmashaven.ca.