Chrystal McCarthy and her six-month-old son Calin wait to register at the Surrey Christmas Bureau (SCB) on Nov. 22. McCarthy has been a client of the SCB since 2011 after the birth of her daughter Ariana

All they want for Christmas

Elves at the Surrey Christmas Bureau got their wish for a new place; now they're busy briging joy for others.

A few days ago, as the doors of the Surrey Christmas Bureau (SCB) opened at 10 a.m., coordinator K.C. Gilroy (left) asked a woman how long she’d been waiting.

Since 5:15 a.m., she answered.

The mother thought there would be a line-up at the new toy depot in North Surrey.

It was a bit of an overreach – and Gilroy has told others that coming at 9:30 a.m. or so is a better idea – but the sentiment was there: People want help at Christmas.

From Nov. 8-22, more than 900 had already registered with the SCB, with up to 1,700 expected by the time sign-ups are complete on Dec. 2.

Surrey families with kids and financial hardship are in luck, as the SCB has the volunteers, loads of toy and gift card donations (though more are welcome) and the space.

This year, the SCB toy depot is located at a former Sears (and The Brick) outlet at 13583 104 Ave. – more than 30,000 square feet of floor space, rent free, courtesy of Bosa Properties.

Inside, Chrystal McCarthy, 29, waits in the lobby for an interview at the registration desk with her six-month-old baby boy Calin.

McCarthy has been a client since 2011 with the birth of her daughter Ariana, now 5.

Each year, she’s been grateful to be matched with a sponsor in the Adopt-A-Family program, where 600 of the client families get toys, gift cards and Christmas dinner delivered directly by a sponsor – a business, family or individual.

The single mom says she comes to the SCB “because I’m poor – because I can’t afford Christmas because it’s expensive.”

Another visitor is Lwabanya Byaombe, who arrived with settlement worker Zipporah Sanya, his unofficial interpreter from the Welcome Centre at the Surrey School District.

Byaombe, a father of four, speaks only Swahili and a sprinkling of French.

He arrived in Canada from Tanzania on Oct. 11, and he’s already getting a warm welcome at the Surrey toy depot.

“We work with people who come from many parts of the world,” says Gilroy, who acknowledges that this year, many of the new clients are from Syria.

Gilroy says that about two-thirds of SCB clients are on income assistance; the rest have part-time jobs or need help making ends meet.

“We do our part,” she adds casually.

Making their season brighter are some 120 volunteers who work with registration and sorting of toys and clothes.

“These are my elves,” says red-hatted Margaret Lloyd (left), a retired Wal-Mart cashier and de facto head of the children’s section, pointing to Mildred and Chantelle Thomas, a mother-and-daughter pair of volunteers working nearby.

“It’s fun – I enjoy helping people,” says Lloyd, who is volunteering for a seventh year with the SCB.

Volunteers will gather and sort donations until Dec. 5 or so, after which families will return to pick up their care packages at pre-arranged dates up to a few days before Christmas.

Many of the kids will get bikes some of which are stored in a back room.

They’re what Gilroy calls “just the tip of the iceberg” – another 100-200 bikes have been promised by Dominion Lending Centres and REC for Kids Society, a sports equipment charity in Newton.

The public is welcome to visit the SCB’s open house, which takes place Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information about the Surrey Christmas Bureau, visit http://christmasbureau.com/

Just Posted

White Rock’s Mueller wins World Series of Poker bracelet

Third career WSOP win for former professional hockey player

ZYTARUK: Canal isn’t Surrey’s first ‘different’ idea

Anyone up for waterskiing in Doug’s Ditch?

MINTY: It’s time to save Surrey Little Theatre before it’s squeezed out of Clayton

At the theatre on 184th Street, DebuTheatre will showcase two one-act plays in July

Why school portables are a ‘way of life’ in Surrey

THIRD IN A SERIES: A look at concerns surrounding Surrey’s 300-plus portables

Surrey man charged in two Guildford bank robberies

David Yaroslawsky, 37, is charged with two counts of robbery and remains in custody

BREAKING: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

B.C. high school withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Vancouver Canucks playing pre-season game in Abbotsford

Canucks hosting Ottawa Senators on Monday, Sept. 23

Mini pinscher at Maple Ridge SPCA needs spinal surgery

Bane has a painful condition known as Wobbler Syndrome

Most Read

l -->