Community seeks Haven

By Maria Rantanen, The Times
Published: December 31, 2013

Jason and Shaylee Mclean visited with Santa Claus at Christmas Haven on Dec. 24 at The ACT.

Families, singles, seniors, new immigrants - and of course St. Nick himself - gathered on Dec. 24 at The ACT in Maple Ridge to celebrate Christmas Eve.

Christmas haven, a tradition since the early 2000s that lets anyone who is looking for company on Dec. 24 come together for a turkey dinner and festivities, was "fantastic" this year, according to Maple Ridge Councillor Corisa Bell, whose family has been volunteering at the event for eight years.

"The highlight for me is the community coming together," Bell said.

This includes people from all socio-economic groups. As a "floater" volunteer this year, Bell said she spent some time talking to attendees and many of them were just happy to have company.

Christmas Haven is put on and paid for through donations from both individuals and businesses who give money, toys and other gifts.

One noticeable difference this year was that there were more children - 35 kids took part, up from 20 last year.

There was also some "great local entertainment," Bell said, with Maple Ridge Dance Circle performing, caroling, and music by Maple Ridge resident Peter Tam.

"It just gets everyone in the spirit [of Christmas]," she said of the entertainment.

Christmas Haven is organized by a steering committee, and about 50 volunteers were helping at this year's event. For more information, go to www.christmashaven.ca.