Empty Stocking Fund: For Langley Christmas Bureau, Lego is a perfect holiday gift

Patty Lester, coordinator of the Langley Christmas Bureau, expects to see over 60 families per day from Nov. 28 to Dec. 15, when the agency closes for the holidays.

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Besides toys and gift cards, clients of the Langley Christmas Bureau will receive a book this season.

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The book comes courtesy of Wrap-A-Read, a joint initiative of the Langley Literacy Association in partnership with the Fraser Valley Regional Library. Each child up to 18 years of age gets a book.

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Clients who need help and make an appointment with the bureau also receive a $50 toy gift card, a food gift certificate and a visit to the toy depot to choose a toy for their child or children.

Patty Lester, coordinator of the LCB, expects to see over 60 families per day from Nov. 28 to Dec. 15, when the agency closes for the holidays.

“Last year we served 1,756 children from 787 families and this season we anticipate we will be closer to 900 families and 2,000 children,” Lester said. “Depending on how many sponsors are recruited to adopt a family to provide a Christmas hamper of food during the Christmas season, the Langley Christmas Bureau will provide food gift certificates to families who are not able to be sponsored.”

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Readers of The Province help fund Langley’s Christmas Bureau through their donations to the Empty Stocking Fund. Since 2001, readers have raised over $7 million. The fund is in its 104th year.

This year, funds received from the initiative are being used for food gift certificates and toys.

“Earlier today, the volunteers used funds received from the Empty Stocking Fund to purchase some toys from Langley Toys R Us, who graciously opened their store early to allow the volunteers to choose some toys,” Lester said in early November.

“We didn’t collect toys last year, so our shelves were looking bare. We anticipate the Langley community will be generous once again and provide donations and toys, so every child has a brighter Christmas to look forward to.”

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Having a toy shop again after two years without one is a welcome return to normalcy for staff, volunteers and clients.

“The parents get to come here and actually get to shop for toys for the children. That makes it more personal for them. And they can pick up what they know that their child is going to enjoy rather than us just kind of guessing.”

This year bureau staff made sure they had a lot of Lego on the shelves to cover as many age groups as possible.

“Even adults play with Lego,” she said. “So we have a lot of Lego, and games that are still popular, like Clue and Jenga, that the older kids can play.”

Along with a toy from the bureau, clients receive a gift certificate for a local toy shop.

As with other bureaus we talked to for this series of stories, Langley is expecting more clients this year than previous years.

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“Registrations at this point have definitely increased,” Lester said. “And I think maybe there’s a bit of worry among the clients, like, ‘I don’t want to miss it. I need it to provide a Christmas for my family.’”

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