Dave Murray (left), manager of the Abbotsford Food Bank and Christmas Bureau, and Brad Quiring, supervisor of philanthropy, are among the staff and volunteers helping to provide holiday cheer to more than 600 families this season. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News)

Holiday charity campaigns underway in Abbotsford

Christmas Bureau, Salvation Army and Cyrus Centre hope to reach fundraising goals

Christmas fundraising campaigns are well underway for the three main agencies in Abbotsford that support those in need during the holiday season.

The Abbotsford Christmas Bureau (which serves as the food bank for the rest of the year), the Salvation Army, and Cyrus Centre for at-risk youth are hoping to reach their fundraising goals this month.

The money they raise during the holidays helps the non-profits provide their programs and services for the next 12 months.

Food bank manager Dave Murray said the organization has currently raised about $750,000 toward its $1 million goal for the year.

He said that figure is ahead of where the agency often is at this time, but Murray said new initiatives – including a monthly-giving program – have enabled donations to be more consistent throughout the year.

However, food donations aren’t doing as well. Murray said that going into the Christmas season, the organization was down 40 pallets of food from last year at the same time.

But with the Fraser Valley Auto Mall Food Drive tomorrow, and school food drives coming to a close next week, those donations are expected to rise considerably.

Murray said the Christmas Bureau expects to help more than 600 families through the holiday season, including 154 seniors.

Families receive food hampers, including a full Christmas breakfast and dinner, which are distributed at the food bank on Essendene Avenue, as well as toys/gifts, which are provided at the former Royal Bank building at South Fraser Way and Montrose Avenue.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army hopes to raise $610,000 through the holiday season, primarily through its red kettle and donation campaigns.

Ian Pollard, executive director of the Centre of Hope in Abbotsford, said the agency has currently raised about 30 per cent of that goal. But with most donations coming in throughout December, he’s hopeful the difference will be made up.

There are currently 19 red kettles in place throughout Abbotsford.

The Sally Ann provides food hampers and gifts over the holidays, including through its Angel Tree program at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre. Last year, presents were provided to about 1,000 kids.

Pollard said the organization provides an average of 12,000 meals each month at the Centre of Hope on Gladys Avenue, and serves a monthly average of 2,600 people through its family-service and drop-in programs.

The Salvation Army is also preparing to hold its annual Santa Breakfast tomorrow (Saturday) at 9 a.m. at Cascade Community Church (35190 DeLair Rd.) RSVP at 604-556-7000.

As well, it holds a community Christmas lunch on Thursday, Dec. 21 at noon at the Abbotsford Banquet Hall. More than 500 people are expected.

Also hoping to meets its fundraising goal this season is Cyrus Centre, which provides youth with services such as emergency shelter, meals and clothing.

Executive director Les Talvio said the centre, located on Ware Street, hopes to raise another $60,000 towards its $450,000 goal for the year.

He said the centre has had some increased costs this year, with two more emergency beds added at its Abbotsford location and four more in Chilliwack.

Talvio said further costs could arise next year, with Cyrus Centre planning to open a four-bed house for girls – the agency currently operates one for boys. The organization is also looking for either a new larger building or additional locations to run some of its existing programs.

Talvio said Cyrus Centre in Abbotsford has recorded approximately 12,000 visits this year and offered emergency shelter to 100 youths (not including extreme-weather beds). The additional beds this year meant that no one had to be turned away.

For more information about the Christmas Bureau, visit abbotsfordfoodbank.com or call 604-859-5749.

For the Salvation Army, visit careandshare.ca or call 604-852-9305.

For Cyrus Centre, visit cyruscentre.com or call 604-859-5773.

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