COVID-19 may have put a damper on the holiday season for many residents.
But charities seeking to help vulnerable Tri-City residents an even bigger challenge because they can’t hold their usual holiday fundraisers.
Toy drives, the CP Holiday Train, parties and events that typically raise funds, foods and toys are now off the table, forcing non-profits such as Share Family and Community Services to be more creative in how they approach the annual holiday campaign.
“It’s worrying,” admitted Share CEO Claire MacLean whose staff and volunteers typically handle a massive collection of donated food and toys and distribute the goods to hundreds of area families.
Still, MacLean says she’s confident the community will come though as they do each year.
“Share has become a part of a lot of holiday traditions. This is how we celebrate with kids and colleagues, and we’re grateful for that.”
To provide as many options as possible, Share has come up with a variety of ways people can give.
You can donate online at different price points for food hampers and toys for children; participate in an upcoming drive-thru food and toy drive; and drop off non-perishable goods and cash at Share locations or at a contactless kiosk to be set up Coquitlam Centre.
This year, the need could be even greater.
The Tri-City News recently reported that the number of households that received support from the food bank last month jumped 12.5% to 783; a total of 1,487 food hampers were provided, feeding 2,109 people.
There is a good sign, however, that people are prepared to give, and give generously. This week Beedie Living presented MacLean with her first glimpse of a 5,000-sq. ft. warehouse the company is donating for this year’s Toy Bank.
WAREHOUSE PROVIDES SPACE
Located in Port Moody, the warehouse was formerly a pillow factory and needed a lot of work before Share could use it for a collection point for registered parents and caregivers to pick up gifts for their children.
“We felt really excited about this opportunity to make this happen for Share and the community,” said Katie Maslechko, senior development manager for Beedie Living.
The space will allow Share to host the Toy Bank while providing enough space to social distance.
“Our fear was that if the space was too small not enough families could come at one time and it would take too long,” said MacLean as she thanked the Beedie Living representatives for their generosity.
In addition to providing the space rent-free, Beedie staff also purchased a number of toys to kick the giving season off early — support that didn’t go unnoticed by MacLean.
“We know how hard this [COVID-19 pandemic] has been for people,” she said. “We hope we can provide a brighter Christmas and we are certainly prepared to do that, thanks to people who have been so supportive. We really appreciate it.”
HOW TO GIVE, VOLUNTEER
You can donate online via sharesociety.ca.
Or you can participate in the drive-thru food and toy drive on Dec. 5 and 6, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the parking lot at Dr. Charles Best secondary in Coquitlam, where you can drop off non-perishable food, new unwrapped toys and make donations in cash, or by credit or debit card.
Last year, the Toy Shop supported over 1,500 children and teens; 800 families received holiday food hampers.
Meanwhile, volunteers are also needed to help sort toys. Visit sharesociety.ca/christmas to fill out the volunteer form.
To host a toy drive or toy collection, email Hayley Knapp at Hayley.Knapp@sharesociety.ca or call 604-529-5107.