British Columbia

Surrey charities depend on Christmas season for donations

​The next two weeks will determine whether many charities and nonprofit groups will have a successful 2016.

Surrey Food Bank Society says 60 percent of the donations they receive come in over Christmas

A volunteer with the Surrey Food Bank Society sorts through items. (CBC)

The next two weeks will determine whether many charities and nonprofit groups will have a successful 2016.

Surrey Food Bank Society executive director Marilyn Herrmann says 60 percent of the donations they receive come in over the Christmas holidays.

Food banks and other charities rely on the holiday season for donations. (CBC)

"Without that we just don't do well throughout the rest of the year," she says.

"Hunger knows no season and people are not just hungry at Christmas."

Syrian refugees

Herrmann is bracing for hundreds of Syrian refugees who are expected to settle in Surrey in the coming months.

"With Surrey being a growing, booming community, we are seeing more people come into our city who need our help and we want to be here for them," she says.

Other nonprofit groups are also scrambling to get ready for the wave of newcomers.

Surrey Food Bank Society executive director Marilyn Herrmann says 60 percent of the donations they receive come in over the Christmas holidays. (CBC)

Adel Masoud with the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre wants to set up bedrooms at his facility in Surrey, but first, heaping piles of donated clothes, toys and furniture need to be moved into storage.

"We have lots of volunteers come through here and help us go through all of these things," he says.

"We are going to clean the area and make the area ready for the people when they come."

Masoud says they have all the clothing and furniture they can handle at the moment, but they are still accepting non-perishable food items and gift cards.

Time to give

Organizations like KidSport BC, which helps cover the cost of registration fees so that children can play organized sports, are also counting on people's generosity over the holidays.

Adel Masoud stands beside a pile of donated items at the Middle Eastern Friendship Centre. (CBC/Jesse Johnston)

"Our demand certainly continues to increase, partly due to the level of awareness we're able to generate and also due to the ebbs and flows of the economy," says director Pete Quevillon.

"We've been able to keep pace with the demand thanks to our incredibly passionate and dedicated volunteers."

Smaller charities, such as Eversafe Ranch in Surrey, are trying to bring in is many donations as possible before Christmas.

KidSport BC director Pete Quevillon (left) is presented with a cheque. (KidSport BC)

The organization is collecting gifts for children and it also furnishes homes for families that are moving out of shelters.

"It's really touching when you see the children get so excited that the three and four year olds want to help you carry stuff off the truck," says co-founder Alan Gaser.

"It's that smile on a child's face or the mom that wants to give you a hug after to say thank you and you can see the appreciation in her eyes."

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