Power of Good

Welcome to a host of heartfelt community stories, and be introduced to countless private individuals and organizations and the great work they do. The ‘Power of Good’ showcases stories from around the province that have been published in print and online media. See the positive and uplifting contributions individuals and organizations have made to make their communities a better place to live, work and play.

All they want for Christmas

By on November 29, 2016

Chrystal McCarthy and her six-month-old son Calin wait to register at the Surrey Christmas Bureau (SCB) on Nov. 22. McCarthy has been a client of the SCB since 2011 after the birth of her daughter Ariana, 5.   - Boaz Joseph photos / The Leader

Chrystal McCarthy and her six-month-old son, Calin, wait to register at the Surrey Christmas Bureau on Nov. 22. McCarthy has been a client osince 2011 after her daughter Ariana, 5, was born.

— image credit: Boaz Joseph photos / The Leader
By Boaz Joseph – Surrey North Delta Leader

A few days ago, as the doors of the Surrey Christmas Bureau opened at 10 a.m., coordinator K.C. Gilroy asked a woman how long she’d been waiting.

Since 5:15 a.m., she answered.

The mother thought there would be a lineup at the new toy depot in North Surrey.

It was a bit of an overreach – and Gilroy has told others that coming at 9:30 a.m. or so is a better idea – but the sentiment was there: People want help at Christmas.

From Nov. 8-22, more than 900 had already registered with the bureau, with up to 1,700 expected by the time sign-ups are complete Dec. 2.

Surrey families with kids and financial hardship are in luck, as the bureau has the volunteers, loads of toy and gift card donations (though more are welcome) and the space.

This year, the bureau’s toy depot is located at a former Sears (and The Brick) outlet at 13583 104 Ave. – more than 30,000 square feet of floor space, rent free, courtesy of Bosa Properties.

Inside, Chrystal McCarthy, 29, waits in the lobby for an interview at the registration desk with her six-month-old, Calin.

McCarthy has been a client since 2011 when her daughter Ariana, now 5, was born.

Each year, she says she’s been grateful to be matched with a sponsor in the Adopt-A-Family program, where 600 client families get toys, gift cards and Christmas dinner delivered directly by a sponsor – a business, family or individual.

The single mom says she comes to the bureau “because I’m poor – because I can’t afford Christmas because it’s expensive.”

Another visitor is Lwabanya Byaombe, who arrived with settlement worker Zipporah Sanya, his unofficial interpreter from the Welcome Centre at the Surrey School District.

Byaombe, a father of four, speaks only Swahili and a sprinkling of French.

He arrived in Canada from Tanzania on Oct. 11, and he’s already getting a warm welcome at the toy depot.

“We work with people who come from many parts of the world,” says Gilroy, who acknowledges that this year, many of the new clients are from Syria.

Gilroy says that about two-thirds of clients are on income assistance; the rest have part-time jobs or need help making ends meet.

“We do our part,” she adds casually.

Making their season brighter are some 120 volunteers who work with registration and sorting of toys and clothes.

“These are my elves,” says red-hatted Margaret Lloyd, a retired Wal-Mart cashier and de facto head of the children’s section, pointing to Mildred and Chantelle Thomas, a mother-and-daughter pair of volunteers working nearby.

“It’s fun – I enjoy helping people,” says Lloyd, who is volunteering for a seventh year.

Volunteers will gather and sort donations until Dec. 5 or so, after which families will return to pick up their care packages at pre-arranged dates up to a few days before Christmas.

Many of the kids will get bikes some of which are stored in a back room.

They’re what Gilroy calls “just the tip of the iceberg” – another 100-200 bikes have been promised by Dominion Lending Centres and REC for Kids Society, a sports equipment charity in Newton.

The public is welcome to visit the open house, which takes place Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information about the Surrey Christmas Bureau, visit http://christmasbureau.com/

Alphabet Heroes bring words to life

By on November 29, 2016

Isreal Hicks Jr. with the latest version of the Alphabet Heroes, characters designed to make words and reading exciting for children entering school. — image credit: Frank Bucholtz By Frank Bucholtz – Cloverdale Reporter Isreal Hicks Jr. had trouble learning when

Food forest coming to empty Chilliwack lot

By on October 27, 2016

The site of a new permaculture community garden to be planted Oct. 29 on Vedder Road near Garrison Crossing in Chilliwack. — image credit: Greg Laychak By  Paul J. Henderson – Chilliwack Times Another empty city lot will soon be a

Campbell River high school donate thousands of items to the food bank

By on October 21, 2016

Members of the student leadership team Haley Wingert, Emily McLean, Thea Karmazynski and Devan Leiman spearheaded the food drive.   By Braden Majic – Campbell River Mirror Students and staff at Carihi Secondary School surpassed their goal and brought in

Penticton women on a mission after kidney donation

By on September 27, 2016

  By  Dale Boyd – Penticton Western News Two Penticton women, Nancy Folkestad and Kellie Wesley, are on a mission. The two share a special bond that led to their YouTube series, Inspiring Women on a Mission. Wesley gave her

Volunteers help knock out knotweed in Ucluelet

By on September 2, 2016

Shiva Charleson-Parlee and Sian Cornwell battled knotweed near Big Beach Park. By  Andrew Bailey – Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News Volunteers helped Big Beach Park’s native plant population escape annihilation this summer. The Central Westcoast Forest Society is working to obliterate the

#OneBagChallenge brings donations to Agassiz food bank

By on August 31, 2016

By  Vanessa Broadbent – Agassiz Observer It seems like there’s always another social media challenge to participate in, but it’s rare to see one that affects your local community. The #onebagchallenge does just that. It’s quite simple: “Somebody brings a

Superheroes band together for super kids in Langford

By on August 23, 2016

The wind didn’t put a stop to last Sunday’s Super Summer Kids Day at Westhills Stadium in Langford. The event, hosted by Superheroes of Victoria, paired with generous private donations, raised $3,500 in support of the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Langley university president pedals for Parkinson’s research

By on August 18, 2016

Trinity Western University president Bob Kuhn is captain of Team TWU which will take part in a fundraising bike ride Saturday, Aug. 20. — image credit: TWU Bob Kuhn is getting out from behind the desk of running Trinity Western University