Coming together for the holidays

Haven gives those with nowhere to go on Dec. 24 a chance to come together and be part of a community.

By Eric Zimmer, The Times
Published: December 31, 2013

At the turn of the century, a group of community volunteers got together on Christmas Eve and hosted a free, non-denominational, wheelchair-accessible Christmas dinner.

It was the first Christmas Haven.

Promoting a sense of belonging and friendship on a night that can be hard for people with little or no support, the event has happened every year since.

Still 100 per cent volunteer driven, this year's Christmas Haven will be held tonight (Dec. 24) at The ACT in downtown Maple Ridge, at 11944 Haney Pl, from 6 to 9 p.m.

In addition to a complete turkey dinner, children's activities, and a visit from Santa, there will also be a variety of live entertainment.

Pam Burns, this year's entertainment organizer for the event, said the lineup will include the Maple Ridge Dance Circle (MRDC) local guitarist/singer Mike Walker, local couple Mike and Suzy, who entertain with a ukulele and guitar, Peter Tam, and many more.

Susan Mitchell, from MRDC, said this is something that the school has been a part of for the past "six or seven years."

"It's something the kids enjoy doing," she said.

"I just really think our kids know how fortunate they are and like to give back to the community."

Steering committee member Corisa Bell called the event an "incredible community celebration," and encourages anyone in the community who may be alone that evening to come join the celebration.

Last year, the event drew more than 300 people.

Bell noted the event even offers free taxi service for those who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend.

Those in need of a ride to the event can call 604.465.8085 to have their name put on the list.

For more information about Christmas Haven, go to www.christmashaven.ca.