The Christmas cheer was palpable at Vancouver’s Pan Pacific Hotel on Tuesday, where thousands of people turned out, toys in hand, to support the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.
The crowds were there for the 32nd annual Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast, an event that collects more than 100,000 toys for kids and families in need across the region every year.
The organization said this year the event, done in partnership with Global BC, Rock 101 and the Pan Pacific Hotel, raised more than $47,000 in cash and gift cards, and collected more than 15 tonnes of toys.
Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau executive director Angela Lee said the event is critical to their mission of serving more than 1,000 families every year.
“We distribute gifts across the Lower Mainland, to Surrey, Richmond, Barnaby, as far as Nanaimo, even Nakusp, so that’s 100,000 items that go out and another 20,000 we distribute in Vancouver alone,” she said.
Generous donors poured into the hotel lobby, while volunteers massed their gifts into a growing mountain over the course of the morning.
All the while, staff at the Pan Pacific pumped out breakfast for about 5,000 people, including 12,000 sausages, 15,000 eggs and about 1,000 pounds of potatoes.
“We have actually team members that no longer work here that come back every year to volunteer for this event, it’s absolutely incredible,” said Pan Pacific general manager Gary Collinge.
“It’s not easy, but they make it look easy.”
Along with generous members of the public, the region’s first responders were major donors.
Members of the Vancouver Police collected more than 400 toys for the growing mountain of gifts.
“As police officers we see people in all kinds of trouble and difficult situations throughout the year,” said Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer.
“We’re very fortunate, we’ve got great jobs and great family support, so to be able to give back and help others that are less fortunate means a lot to us.”
The Vancouver Firefighters’ charity collected and donated $90,000 worth of gifts.
“All the firefighters, every pay period they give money off their paycheques and it goes towards events like this, as well as other events in the city,” said Craig Lanthier with the Vancouver Firefighters Charity.
“We’ll basically start on next year’s event tomorrow.”
B.C. paramedics, TransLink bus drivers, and companies including FortisBC and Kryton International also made major donations.
Along the way, donors were met with musical, dance and gospel choir entertainment.
“There’s just this wonderful feeling in the air and I just believe now more than ever everyone is really feeling we need that,” said Global BC news director Jill Krop, adding a special thank-you to the Pan Pacific for hosting the event.
“They put on an amazing breakfast and literally open the doors to thousands of people. Clearly we couldn’t do it without them.”
You can still donate to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau and help make someone’s Christmas merry and bright.
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