Volunteers with the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau faced down an uphill battle as 2020 drew to a close.
LMCB executive director Chris Bayliss said even with the odds stacked against them due to the pandemic, the bureau still served approximately 700 families across the Lower Mainland. Bayliss said this was lower than the average year for the LMCB as they prepared to assist 900 to 1,000 families.
Due to pandemic restrictions, the LMCB couldn’t hold their usual fundraising and toy drive events. Instead, they opted for safer alternatives such as the Toy Drop Drive-Thru at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in mid-November.
“Our supporters came through later in the season,” Bayliss said. “Financial donations were quite remarkable, and people found ways to get toy donations to us. I was really, really impressed to see our donors and supporters pull together and find a way. Without their support, we couldn’t do what we do.”
Normally, LMCB volunteers log roughly 1,000 hours per year during the holiday season. However, COVID-19 sidelined all but the bare minimum in staff members. Even without the volunteers, Bayliss said they managed to ship donations to Christmas bureaus without a hitch.
“With all the added complexities, it went relatively seamlessly,” Bayliss said. “It was a fair bit of pressure on our staff, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Bayliss said despite dealing with COVID protocols, bad weather and lengthy wait times, the families being served were very grateful and happy.
Since 1930, the LMCB works annually to bring Christmas to families in need. To donate or learn more, visit lmcb.ca.