Surrey Christmas Bureau needs angel to provide space for toy depot

Click to play video: 'Surrey Christmas Bureau needs a Christmas miracle'
Surrey Christmas Bureau needs a Christmas miracle
The Surrey Christmas Bureau, which helps about 2,000 families every year, is having a difficult time finding a temporary warehouse to set up operations. Christa Dao reports. – Oct 4, 2022

As the holiday season approaches, British Columbia’s largest Christmas charity is in “desperate” need of an angel to provide space for its annual toy depot.

The Surrey Christmas Bureau fills the depot with toys, books and clothes for children from low-income families. Parents can browse the shelves and shop — for free — and pick up a grocery voucher as well.

“It is concerning,” said Lisa Werring, the non-profit’s executive director, in an interview.

“It’s a little bit late in the season for us to be at this point right now, but I have every faith there are terrific corporate citizens in Surrey that will be willing to step forward and become one of Santa’s helpers.”

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The Surrey Christmas Bureau needs at least 10,000 square feet to build its “pop-up” toy store, and room for staff and volunteers to park their vehicles. A loading dock is preferable, said Werring, as is a location in central Surrey that is easily accessibly by public transit.

“We do bring in our own shelving and we bring in basically everything,” she told Global News.

“We generally move in mid-October and can disappear without a trace fairly quickly after Christmas, before New Year’s.”

Click to play video: 'Big Brothers of Canada urgently needs volunteers'
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The non-profit supports about 2,000 families in need each year, and in 2021, provided nearly $190,000 in food vouchers — the equivalent of about 21,000 holiday meals.

“Economic stress is really bad for everybody now and has been for the past couple of years … every parent just wants to give their child a happy Christmas,” said Werring.

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The Surrey Board of Trade said it’s working hard “behind the scenes” to find connections for the Surrey Christmas Bureau, canvassing its members for a suitable vacant space for the depot.

“It’s not only about toys, it’s about giving our children that foundational sense of belonging to their community,” said Anita Huberman, president and CEO.

“This is an essential part of the livability of our city. There are so many in need.”

Huberman said the challenge is a “lack of availability” — even a space that appears to be vacant may have already been purchased and will be occupied shortly.

“Surrey is a very thriving place from an economic perspective, so it’s very challenging for a developer to say, ‘You can have this space for two to three months every year.'”

Information on how to support the Surrey Christmas Bureau is available on its website. 

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