The Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau wants anyone donating to the annual Christmas Wish Breakfast to know that as grateful as they are for all and any gifts donated, there’s a huge need for items for teenagers and tweens rather than plush toys more suitable for babies and toddlers. The bureau is a non-profit organization that works hard to ensure all families enjoy a special Christmas.
The Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the massive gift drive, which last year saw more than 5,000 attendees trade an unwrapped toy for a turn at the breakfast buffet. And while the Christmas Bureau literally receives thousands of plush toys every year, the real need is appropriate gifts for teenagers. To help better facilitate that, the bureau has created wish lists to help donors understand the needs.
Babies, toddlers and preschoolers:
Outdoor toys (tricycles, kick scooters, balance bikes), building blocks (Mega Bloks, wooden blocks), Play-Doh, musical toys (xylophones, maracas, drums), educational toys (shape sorting cubes, abacus, Octotunes), games (Hungry Hungry Hippos, Angry Birds Knock on Wood), crayons, paints and easels, Leapster Explorer Camera, age-appropriate electronics, toy cars and train sets and dinosaur figures.
Elementary school-aged kids, tweens and teens:
Building toys (Lego, Duplo), outdoor toys (skateboards, kick scooters, bikes, soccer balls, basket balls, sleds), games and brain twisters (Pokemon cards, Perplexus, Qwirkle, Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Cranium Family Edition), puzzles, Barbie, DoodleArt, “food” pillows that look like donuts and cookies, art sets (pencil crayons, pastels), tea and coffee travel mugs, watches, headphones, electronics, books, popcorn poppers, air hockey, tickets to concerts and sports events, gift cards (coffee, mall, store).
For the past three decades the Pan Pacific and its culinary team have worked hard to feed the thousands of donors who make the effort to buy an unwrapped gift and drop it off. Last year, executive chef Geoff Carkner and the team served up 18,000 eggs, 12,000 sausages, 450 pounds of hash browns, 6,000 croissants and 3,000 muffins. When a toy is dropped off, volunteers from the Vancouver Fire Department stack the toys into a two-storey high "tree" and then load them into trucks for transport to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau warehouse, where they’re sorted and distributed to families in need. In 2016, generous donors gave more than 22 tonnes of toys and several thousand dollars cash in just three hours.
This year, due to construction the Pan Pacific Hotel is hosting the gift drive at the neighbouring Vancouver Convention Centre from 6 to 9 a.m. Dec. 13.
Anyone who wants to donate directly to the bureau online can visit CanadaHelps.org. For more information on the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, visit lmcb.ca.