The “Stuff the Sleigh” event aims to collect 5,000 Christmas toys for Surrey children. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

‘Stuff the Sleigh’ event aims to collect 5,000 Christmas toys for Surrey children

The Surrey Central Lions Club event will support the Surrey Christmas Bureau

Donate a toy for a child in need, get a free breakfast.

It’s a simple concept and one that Surrey Central Lions Club is busy preparing for. Its “Stuff the Sleigh” toy drive and pancake breakfast is set for Saturday, Nov. 23 at Central City Shopping Centre and will benefit the Surrey Christmas Bureau.

“We’ve had this breakfast very low key for the last two years and we’ve kind of been building on it but we realize the urgency and the need is just so huge that we need to step up our event this year,” explained organizer Glynnis Boulle, who is with the Lions Club. “We’re hoping that we can get 5,000 toys donated.”

And, as a flyer for the event indicates, “all donations remain in Surrey.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey Christmas Bureau returns to old Stardust building for the holidays this year

Boulle said the need is “so dire” and at some point the Christmas bureau ran out of toys last year. The organization chose the Christmas bureau “because we care about our community and we care about the children,” she noted.

“Our motto is ‘we serve.’ We look at what is needed most in our community and right now it’s the Surrey Christmas Bureau. So we are directing our energies at this point that no child is left without a toy.”

Last year, the Surrey Christmas Bureau served a record-breaking 2,007 families including 4,449 children. And this year, the charity is expecting the numbers to go up again.

On Friday, Nov. 15, Boulle said a “beautiful sleigh” was being constructed inside the mall near Winners.

“That’s going up Friday evening. Because we’re lions we don’t have reindeer pulling our sleight, we have a lion,” she said, chuckling.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 23 near Winners at Central City Shopping Centre.

The public is asked to bring a new toy or a monetary donation and enjoy the complimentary pancake breakfast, live entertainment, prize draws and more. Visit surreycentrallions.com for more information.

Meantime, the Christmas bureau is operating its toy depot out of the old Stardust building for the second year in a row.

Registration for those needing support this Christmas has begun, at 10240 City Pkwy. The depot is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for registrations, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for toy drop offs and donations.

“We have been off to the races for a while now,” the bureau’s executive director Lisa Werring told the Now-Leader on Nov. 15.

“It’s been busy, as always,” she added. “Very busy. We have lineups every morning since we opened on Nov. 5.”

On average, the depot has been registering 75 to 85 families every day thus far.

“We’re up around 700 right now and we’re not even half way through,” Werring said Nov. 15. “That number is going to go way up.”

The Christmas bureau has a roster of 300 volunteers it draws from to make Christmas happen for all those families.

“Helping the families select the toys, it’s extremely rewarding,” she said.

Donations are being accepted now, and Werring said financial donations are of particular importance.

“Our grocery hamper budget annually is about $150,000 a year, so that needs to be spent fairly soon to order those cards, so help with that is absolutely integral,” she said.

As in previous years, the bureau is in need of donations for teens and pre-teens.

“Teen are always, always, always a challenge,” she said. “So hair appliances, blow dryers, electric shavers, things that teens use like that. Blue tooth speakers was a suggestion we had. Headphones, charging stations, the portable power packs, things like that.

“And that kind of in between age, ten to 12, is sometimes difficult as well,” she added. “They’re a bit old for some of the younger toys. They often like arts and craft kits, adult colouring books with the markers, jewelry making kits, science experiments or chemistry sets.”

Werring is “very excited” for the Stuff the Sleigh event, which she’ll be attending.

“They’ve really put a lot of effort into and we’re really excited to see what they’re doing,” she said.

“It’ll be a great day for people to come down. People can wander over to the city’s Tree-Lighting Festival outside city hall that day, walk to the mall and stuff the sleigh. And we’re right across the way in the old Stardust building. It’s all within walking distance,” she added.

And, Werring’s excited that after the event, the sleigh is being moved over to the lobby of the Surrey Christmas Bureau.

Donations can be made online at christmasbureau.com or in person at 10240 City Pkwy.

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