Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau executive director Chris Bayliss was surrounded by toys Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020 at the 37th annual Kruise for Kids toy drive and fundraiser held at the Langley Events Centre for the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau executive director Chris Bayliss was surrounded by toys Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020 at the 37th annual Kruise for Kids toy drive and fundraiser held at the Langley Events Centre for the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

‘Sense of desperation’: Christmas bureaus anticipating spike in need this year

Bureau pushing for teen toys, but says all support is welcome

As with most events this year, Christmas and the holiday season will be just a little bit different.

There won’t be any opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap at malls, fewer holiday gatherings and according to Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau executive director Chris Bayliss, there have just been struggles all around.

Many of the bureau’s events have been turned “all the way upside down,” Bayliss told Black Press Media by phone. All events have gone virtual, been heavily scaled down to comply with COVID-19 safety plans or been cancelled altogether..

“Our first couple of big events, the toy numbers are far down, the financial support is way down,” he said. “They’re all impacted. It’s a challenge.”

The impact stretches beyond the regional bureau and all the way to local ones in cities like Surrey and Langley, with the Lower Mainland office supports. The Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau supports an average of 1,000 families annually and works with 40 other bureaus and agencies, providing material support and shipping more than 145,000 items to them. The bureau also distributes almost $70,000 in supermarket gift cards to families.

Bayliss said the recent Vancouver Motorcycle Toy Run drive-thru drop off resulted in just one-quarter the toy donations they usually get. Their Cruise for Kids car rally did well financially but gathered less than half the usual toys.

“We’ve also lost the Teddy Bear Toss completely, and most importantly our Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast 2020 is gone,” Bayliss noted. “That brings in 20 tonnes of toys in one day, it’s probably the biggest toy drive of its kind.”

But even though donations are down, recipient families are up as many struggle through an unusually difficult year, while regular recipients find themselves in even tougher straits than usual this Christmas.

“There’s a pent up demand, there’s sort of a sense that we need to have a normal Christmas, or at least something to celebrate,” Bayliss said. “There’s also the fear from our volunteers, seasonal staff, our client base… how can we do this in a COVID-safe manner.”

While Bayliss said the organization has invested in safety training, barriers, masks and extra sanitization, he said it makes it hard when they typically rely on numbers to package, ship out and distribute toys and other goods.

“I hope that people can get out and get the help they need because we know… there’s a sense of desperation this year. We’ve been getting the calls,” he said.

But while many events have been cancelled, Bayliss said he’s encourage by all of the people who have stepped up to help. The bureau is hosting a Christmas Toy Drop Drive-Thru at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) on Thursday and Friday (Nov. 12-13). Anyone can make a monetary donation via tap or donate a new, unwrapped toy. To reserve a time, visit: ticketleader.ca/events/detail/christmas-toy-drop.

READ MORE: Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, PNE to host drive-thru holiday toy collection

Bayliss said that while any monetary help and all toys are appreciated, teens often get left out during the holidays. Teens make up 12 per cent of the bureau’s recipients each year but toys for them make up only three per cent of what’s donated.

“We can make a lot of that up with gift cards but it’s not the same,” he said. “Everybody always wants to buy a stuffed animal… but teen toys are always important.”

If you’re not sure what to get, Bayliss said to “look at the STEM toys, the science, tech, engineering and mathematic toys.” Electronics, he noted, are always good, too, and items like blowdryers and curling irons.

Anyone wanting to donate can visit lmcb.ca for more information.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ChristmasCoronavirusHoliday givingHolidays

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There have been COVID-19 exposure events at three more schools. (Pixabay)
COVID-19 exposure events at three more schools

Maple Ridge schools exposed to the virus

Students at Meadowridge did fundraising over Halloween to fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. (Special to The News)
Meadowridge students give gifts for children abroad

Maple Ridge school filled more than 60 boxes for Operation Christmas Child

RCMP stock photo. (Black Press)
Missing Maple Ridge teen safely located

14-year-old girl went missing on Thursday evening

Kai Chand and his four-legged companion, Rosie, walk through the mall with Kai’s mother, Tara. (Special to The News)
Invaluable canine companion motivates teen to give back

Maple Ridge’s Kai and Rosie recently took part in a challenge to raise money for service dogs

If you have a letter you’d like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at <a href="mailto:editor@mapleridgenews.com"><strong>editor@mapleridgenews.com</strong></a>. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
LETTER: Shame on local businesses not enforcing mask wearing

Maybe a list should be published saying where not to do business because it’s unsafe

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read