Toys for Tots Breakfast collects gifts for local kids

The third annual event was held Friday morning at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre in Abbotsford

A pile of donated items collected at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre during the third annual Toys for Tots event held Friday morning for the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau.

A pile of donated items collected at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre during the third annual Toys for Tots event held Friday morning for the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau.

More than 1,300 toys and $26,000 were collected for the Abbotsford Christmas Bureau this morning at the third annual Toys for Tots Breakfast.

The event, presented by Envision Financial and the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre, attracted more than 500 people, who received a free buffet breakfast at the Ramada in exchange for their donation.

Food bank manager Dave Murray said he was overwhelmed by the turnout. Last year’s event collected 1,100 toys and about $14,000 in cash.

“We are blessed by the community and are so grateful for the support of everybody,” he said.

The event ran from 6 to 9:30 a.m. and featured photos with Santa and live entertainment, including from the MEI Choir.

Members of Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service were on hand to help organize the toys and to take them to the Christmas Bureau after the event. Also helping out were members of the Abbotsford Police Department and BC Ambulance.

The event first ran in 2013 and was modelled after the popular Christmas Wish Breakfast held every year at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver.

Murray said the donations are greatly appreciated at a time when demand for services continues to grow. The food bank currently serves about 10 per cent more people now – about 4,000 each month in total – than it did a year ago.

The food bank operates as the Christmas Bureau during the holiday season, providing food and gifts to families in need, including about 1,200 children.

This time of year also serves as the main fundraising period for the agency, which this season has set a goal of $850,000 – money that is used to keep the food bank and its services running throughout the year. So far, $414,000 has been raised.

Murray said the Christmas Bureau is in “good shape” in terms of the numbers of toys and gifts it has on hand, but more items for teens are needed.

For more information, visit abbotsfordfoodbank.com, call 604-859-5749 or visit in person at 33914 Essendene Ave.