There's something about a new toy that can take away pain, sadness, or the emptiness in a belly, if even for a short while. And especially at this time of year, a new toy has the power to put a smile on the face of a youngster on Christmas morning.
For many in the community who struggle with just the basics of food and shelter, buying toys for their kids at Christmas is just not possible this year.
That's where the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau comes in, but they too are struggling to meet the demand of their ever-growing list of clients.
"The big need now is toys; we're almost out," said Kristine Ewald, Christmas Bureau co-ordinator.
And while the small room at the downtown food bank location has shelves and shelves of new toys, Ewald says they will be wiped clean in about a day.
This year more than 500 families will visit the Abbotsford Food Bank for food and toys this holiday season. And parents and many single moms will be able to browse through the tiny toy store, hoping to find just the right gift for their little one.
Ewald is hoping the bureau can provide one large and one small toy for each child, along with an item of clothing, but she's worried they'll run out unless they receive more donations immediately.
"We're in need of all toys for every age, including teens," she said.
The Christmas Bureau also has 350 sponsored families this year, and the food is rolling in, thanks to the generosity of valley residents. December is the busiest month for the food drive, and while staff hope that supplies will last through the year, they find the food runs out by mid summer.
But they are now focusing on their need for toys, to brighten the holiday for kids of all ages. Some of the more popular items they're hoping to receive are: for girls - Barbie dolls, Monster High Dolls, My Little Pony, other dolls and accessories; for boys - Lego sets, trucks, cars, monsters, board games; and for teens (which are often hard to shop for) - gift cards, movie passes, new DVDs, makeup, hair products, knitted wear such as toques and mittens and toiletries.
- The Christmas Bureau, located in the Abbotsford Food Bank building at 33914 Essendene Ave., is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. until Dec. 22. Donations can be dropped off at any time during these hours.