Help wanted: play Santa to Surrey’s homeless

On Dec. 25, a team of volunteers will be distributing hampers to the homeless in Whalley.

Three years ago, Erica Beckstead started a grassroots, community campaign to help Surrey’s homeless in some small way.

She’d been traveling a lot, accumulating a mini mountain of leftover hotel shampoos and soaps as souvenirs.

She realized they’d be ideal ingredients for gift hampers, so she hatched a plan to distribute the gifts to Surrey’s homeless people on Christmas day in the Whalley area.

“My first year, I had about 50 hampers and three volunteers,” she told the Cloverdale Reporter recently.

Last year, it grew to 200 hampers and 20 volunteers.

This year, reality TV personality Ronnie Negus of the Housewives of Vancouver is helping with donations.

The volunteer army will head out on Dec. 25, and the call is going out to anyone who would like to join them. They’re planning to meet at Gateway SkyTrain station at 11 a.m. Christmas Day before setting out to distribute hampers. Anyone who would like to join them is more than welcome, she says.

Looking back at how quickly her idea has grown, she can’t quite believe it.

“My vision is a reality,” she says.

To volunteer, or donate, reach her by email at whalleysantacause@hotmail.com.

“We would love toiletries from soap to shampoo or toothpaste and toothbrushes,” she says.

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