Mission Christmas Bureau coordinator Phil Hope stands in front of the empty hampers at the Christmas Bureau office. Donations so far have been low and only 23 per cent of this year's $130

Shelves are empty at Christmas Bureau

Now is the time to give, says Christmas Bureau coordinator

The shelves at the Mission Food Bank are mostly empty and the boxes used to build hampers at the Christmas Bureau are unusually light this time of year.

“In general, donations are way down,” said Christmas Bureau coordinator Phil Hope. “There are lots of people donating, but compared to previous years, we’re down 40 to 50 per cent (for cash donations).”

Last month a goal of $130,000 was set, but only $30,000 has been collected so far. The Christmas Bureau still needs another $100,000 to help families in the community this year, Hope explained.

“Now is the most critical time to give. Our shelves are empty.”

Hampers are being built this week and volunteers will begin distributing the boxes the week before Christmas. But with donations at an all-time low, Hope isn’t sure what some the hampers will be filled with.

About 800 hampers will need to be built this year. Hampers usually contain cereal, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned fish, pasta, pasta sauce and a gift certificate to a local grocery store. Sometimes there are treats included if they are available.

“There’s enough there for a nice Christmas dinner,” said Hope, explaining  hampers are built depending on the size of the family needing it.

Children also receive gifts from the Christmas Bureau as volunteers try to match a child with a toy on their wish list.

“Sometimes adults receive gifts too if they are available,” said Hope. “Gifts for teens are still in high demand.”

A present for a teenager may be a gift certificate to a clothing store or movie theatre, make up, or body fragrance.

To make a donation to the Christmas Bureau, visit Mission Community Services at 33179 Second Ave., or the Christmas Bureau Office in the Junction Mall, 142-32555 London Ave.

Upcoming fundraisers for the Christmas Bureau:

• Dec. 13 West Coast Express Santa Train. Ride the train into Vancouver for the day by bringing a new unwrapped toy in exchange for a ticket. 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. Tickets are available in Mission at the theatre box office, Rex Cox Men’s Wear, London Drugs, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Prospera, and Fraser Valley Building Supplies.