The Toys for Tots drive-thru event that had been scheduled for this Friday in Abbotsford has been cancelled due to the expanded provincial health order issued this week.
The annual event, which collects toys and cash for the Archway Food Bank’s Christmas Bureau, is normally held at the Clarion Hotel (formerly the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre) and includes a free breakfast for anyone who makes a donation.
But this year, due to the pandemic, the event had been planned as a drive-thru where people could drop off donations in the parking lot at the hotel, wave to Santa and his helpers, catch a glimpse of the Ever After Princesses, and receive a free treat bag.
Food bank manager Dave Murray said the event had received all the necessary approvals from Fraser Health and WorkSafeBC, and 23 volunteers were set to participate, following social-distance protocols.
But organizers found out on Tuesday (Nov. 24) that expanded COVID-19 restrictions included the suspension of all outdoor holiday events.
Murray said they were disappointed in the news – the 2019 Toys for Tots breakfast raised more than $42,000 and 1,800 toys – but they understand why the restrictions are needed.
He said the event had already received $27,000 in sponsorship, and that money is going towards toys and gifts for an estimated 2,000 kids through the Christmas Bureau.
Murray said people are now encouraged to make online cash donations (abbotsfordfoodbank.com/donate), and staff will purchase gifts.
As well, the Clarion Hotel will continue to collect toys, as will eight other locations (during business hours): Archway Food Bank, Local Food Supply, Hugs in a Mug Coffee Bistro, Assante Wealth Management, Prospera Credit Union on DeLair Road, Re/Max Little Oak Realty, Fraserway RV, and Jag’s Furniture and Mattress.
“Christmas isn’t cancelled for the kids, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure every child in Abbotsford has a great Christmas,” Murray said.
The Christmas Bureau will be open from Dec. 1 to 21. To register or for more information, visit abbotsfordfoodbank.com, email email@example.com or call 604-859-7681 (ext. 32).