Meet the 3 generations of this Vancouver family who donate their time over the holidays
Bridget Orford co-founded Aunt Leah's and still volunteers with her family today
This story is part of a special series about people who make time to volunteer in their community over the winter holidays.
The family that volunteers together, stays together, according to Bridget Orford — and can help out a good cause while they do.
It's been 30 years since Orford, 76, first got involved with Aunt Leah's, which supports children in foster care and young mothers. Despite the busyness of the holiday period, she finds time to give to the Metro Vancouver non-profit organization.
"It's a lovely family activity," Orford said of volunteering over the holidays. "I'd rather be doing this than shopping."
Orford and her husband, Tony Orford, were foster parents 30 years ago when they helped found Aunt Leah's. Today, they volunteer for the organization alongside their children and grandchildren.
The elder Orfords have cut back their involvement with Aunt Leah's to occasionally help out at social functions. But their son, daughter-in-law and grandchild all volunteer in various capacities at the organization's Christmas tree lots, which raise money for the 201 youth, mothers and children in the organization's care.
James Orford, 46, says he was about 18 when he started volunteering for Aunt Leah's.
"It was just, it was something I was expected to do — help out with the community," James said. "It's very rewarding."
At first James helped out with odd jobs, like painting the homes where the foster kids lived. But more recently the tree lots have been his main focus. Between jobs at the window and gutter cleaning business he runs with his dad, James pops by to help load trees.
James Orford's wife of 20 years, Moira Orford, also volunteers for Aunt Leah's. Moira says she started donating her time at the Christmas tree lots shortly after they got married.
"It's really nice. It really puts you in the Christmas spirit," Moira Orford said.
After their daughter Oona was born, they started bringing her along too. Oona, now 14, doesn't remember when exactly she first started coming to the Christmas tree lots.
"I would usually run around and eat the cookies from behind the table," she said.
High school students in B.C. need to volunteer as part of their graduation requirements. Oona says it's handy that her family's time at Aunt Leah's helps her fulfil that.
But Oona says it's also just a nice way to spend time with her parents and grandparents.
"It's really great. Most families I see, they don't do stuff like this," she said.
Know a volunteer who goes the extra mile over the holidays? Send Maryse a note at email@example.com