Almost 200 people have signed up to receive help from the Christmas Bureau this year even before the office officially opened on Tuesday.
“I expect more than 700 families will register,” said coordinator Phil Hope, noting donations have not come in yet and the shelves at the Mission Food Centre are low.
“We’re just starting up,” explained Hope, adding most donations come in during the month of December.
This year, the Christmas Bureau, operated by Mission Community Services Society (MCSS), is located in unit 142 of the Junction Mall.
Donations and registrations can be made at this location on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekend hours have not yet been established.
“The goal this year is to raise $130,000,” said Hope.
Sanjay Gulati, MCSS executive director, said he hopes to exceed the target set.
“We want everyone to have a great Christmas and we can only achieve that by working together,” said Gulati.
“There are countless families that have nothing without the Christmas Bureau, MCSS, and the generosity of the Mission people,” said mayor-elect Randy Hawes, who will be volunteering at Hope Central this year. “This is the time to share.”
Councillor-elect Jim Hinds has been contributing to the Mission Christmas Bureau for many years.
“They can take a dollar and turn it into two or three,” said Hinds, explaining the non-profit organization can buy things at cost from local retailers.
Donations of non-perishable foods and new gift items are needed, said Hope, adding cash donations are particularly useful because organizers can use it to buy supplies they are short on.
There are about ten regular volunteers at the Christmas Bureau, but more than 200 are needed throughout the season for general office work and to help out at special events.
Volunteers are also needed to sponsor a family, help build hampers, put up wish trees in businesses.
Close to 700 families benefitted from the efforts of the Christmas Bureau last year.
Numerous events are being held to support the Christmas Bureau this year:
• Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 West Coast Express Santa Train. Ride the train into Vancouver for the day with a donation of a new, unwrapped toy. The train leaves Mission City Station at 10 a.m. and returns from Vancouver at 5 p.m.
• Dec. 17 Christmas at the Clarke. Enjoy music from Kenny Hess, Horizon, and 1066 at the Clarke Theatre. The event supports the Christmas Bureau and Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley.