Within two hours of opening on Tuesday, the Surrey Christmas Bureau had filled its quota for registrations for the day.
The Surrey Christmas Bureau began its registration on Nov. 6 at the former Stardust rink in Whalley, located at 10240 City Parkway.
Lisa Werring, Surrey Christmas Bureau executive director, said the organization aims to register 100 people per day.
Werring said people were lined up outside the building the first morning of registration, but she said that’s not necessary.
“If they could get here about 8:30, maybe after they drop the kids off at school — they’re probably fine,” said Werring, adding that at 9 a.m., volunteers hand out numbers for people so they can come back later on when it’s time for their number to be registered.
The Surrey Christmas Bureau, according to its website, is open for registration Mondays through Saturdays until Dec. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with two evening registrations on Nov. 14 and 21 from 5-8 p.m. The bureau will be closed on Nov. 12 for Remembrance Day.
Werring said she’s anticipating the bureau will register more than 2,000 families this year. She said last year, the Surrey Christmas Bureau helped nearly 2,000 families. To register, applicants must have government-issued photo identification and proof of receiving social assistance, or proof of income for the last three months, pay stubs, all bank statements, direct deposit info, proof of residence (phone bill, electric or gas bill, cable bill, landlord agreement), B.C. medical Care Cards for all in the family and all immigration papers and permanent residency cards.
The bureau is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accept donations.
A different option, Werring said, is to “adopt a family,” which she said is “unique to the Surrey Christmas Bureau.”
Sponsors, she said, can sign up to sponsor a family. The sponsors buy the toys, provide a hamper, wrap the gifts and deliver it to the family.
“It’s a personal connection. It’s a family tradition for many families. It’s an office tradition. It’s a real great team-building thing for business.”
More than 600 families were sponsored last year, Werring said, “which is great because that gives us capacity to help more.”
Each year, the bureau must raise about $150,000 in order to help the hundreds of families. But she said the money needed “grows a little bit each year.”
“We increased our budget a little bit last year. It’s staying the same this year, but we felt we had kept the levels at about the same year over year,” she said.
“A hundred dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to go, so we do the very best we can to try and help folks with the increased cost of living.”
Werring said this year she’s really noticed the “spirit of co-operation” that exists between all of the smaller agencies and non-profits in Surrey.
“Everybody seems to work together,” she said, adding that this year, the Muslim Food Bank is providing translators.
“We have a large number of Syrian refugees, Arabic-speaking refugees that come to us. In the past, it’s been quite challenging because a lot of those folks don’t speak English and we’ve managed via ‘sign language’ to make sure that we get everybody registered.”
Donations are accepted at the Surrey Christmas Bureau, as well as fire halls throughout the city and Guildford mall. The Toy Depot opens Nov. 28 and will run until Dec. 22.