50 Years of Christmas Cheer

Published On December 5th 2018

The Christmas Bureau is a cornerstone of the community here in Abbotsford. Every holiday season, in additional to assisting families, seniors and individuals with food and basic necessities, they open to provide those in need with holiday magic they may otherwise not experience.

In 2018, the Christmas Bureau marks 50 years of operation in Abbotsford. Back in 1968, the idea of running it was presented to Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) founder Walter Paetkau by the District Welfare Supervisor. Until that point, the provision of Christmas hampers was handled by numerous local churches and service organizations but they felt it would benefit from more coordination and centralization.

clearbrook junior secondary help abbotsford christmas bureau

The newly-structured Christmas Bureau was endorsed by the numerous local faith groups and service clubs, and initially had two locations in downtown Abbotsford and Clearbrook. This way, they were able to serve people with limited access to transportation in all areas of the community.

The very first Abbotsford Christmas Bureau received media coverage from A.S.M. (Abbotsford-Sumas-Matsqui) News and C.F.V.R. radio. 37 people volunteered and donations of approximately $500 went to purchase hams for the approximately 70 families who registered for hampers. As the years went on, the Abbotsford Community Services Food Bank was created as a year-round response to poverty and hunger.

abbotsford residents knit for the christmas bureau

From 70 families served in 1968 to 573 families served in 2017 the need has remained constant. In 2018, the approximately 2,000 community members came together at the 6th annual ‘Toys for Tots’ Christmas Breakfast event to raise $60,000 and 2,700 toys!

50 years later, the Christmas Bureau has changed considerably, but the core tenets remain the same. Those in need in our community are sponsored by a collection of groups, businesses and individuals and in turn receive food hampers as well as the opportunity to “shop” in the Christmas Bureau store where they can select gifts for their children.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to get involved this Christmas, there are still plenty of families and seniors who are in need of a blessing during the holiday season. The Food Bank’s Christmas Bureau sponsorship program helps provide people with food and gifts you can deliver yourself. Experience the joy of the Christmas spirit, face-to-face with someone in need.

The Food Bank also has a great list of ideas for businesses, schools, faith groups, families and individuals who want to raise awareness, volunteer and help in other ways this Christmas season.