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.

This year the Christmas Bureau marks 50 years of operation in Abbotsford. Looking back to 1968, the idea of running it was presented to 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 who had huge hearts and did a great job of caring for people. However, it was felt would this effort 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. 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. From it, the Abbotsford Food Bank was created as a year-round response to poverty and hunger.

abbotsford residents knit for the christmas bureau

Compare that to the annual ‘Toys for Tots’ Christmas Breakfast event put on by the Food Bank and Quality Hotel and Conference Centre, which in one morning saw $60,000 and 2,700 toys raised by approximately 2,000 people!

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.