Erica Beckstead, founder of Whalley Santa Cause, stands on 135A Street in Surrey in advance of Christmas Day, when she and volunteers will hand out hampers to the homeless. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Erica Beckstead, founder of Whalley Santa Cause, stands on 135A Street in Surrey in advance of Christmas Day, when she and volunteers will hand out hampers to the homeless. (Photo: Amy Reid)

VIDEO: Volunteers, donations needed as ‘Whalley Santa Cause’ returns to Surrey’s 135A Street

Volunteers will descend on the Surrey ‘Strip’ to give hampers to homeless on Christmas Day, but help is needed

While many Surrey residents are enjoying time with family in the warm comfort of their homes on Christmas Day, a growing group of volunteers will hit the streets to make the holiday a little brighter for those who are less fortunate.

The event is dubbed the “Whalley Santa Cause” and involves a legion of volunteers descending into the toughest zone in Surrey to hand out hampers to those who need them most.

This year, the team will hit the streets with hampers from 1 to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day.

Hampers will be packed full of toiletries, winter clothing and other essential items to help the community’s most vulnerable.

See also: Surrey urged to ‘rethink how they donate’ after mess on 135A Street

But event founder Erica Beckstead is still in search of donations — and volunteers — for this year’s outing.

While about 50 people came out to help last Christmas, handing out 500 hampers, the number of helpers and hampers are far shy of that as of mid-December.

Beckstead is in need of new personal hygiene items such as deodorant, tooth brushes, shampoo, conditioner, hair brushes, socks, and so on. Gently used sweaters, scarves and gloves are also needed.

She urged those with donations to get in touch soon, as the need is great on Surrey streets.

“The reason why I started it is I’m a former drug addict,” explained Beckstead, who founded the charity in 2011.

“I used to be one of these people. I’m 10 years sober,” she said, standing next to tent city on 135A Street, unloading blankets from her car to hand out on a cold December afternoon.

“I didn’t live in tents on the street but I was very close. I used to live out of a suitcase and I lived on King George and I’ve done a full circle. I’ve totally changed my life around with the help of strangers.”

It’s why she pays it forward to others.

See more: Former Surrey addict makes giving a priority in Whalley (Jan. 8, 2015

Beckstead said she hit bottom in 2007, when she was “kidnapped and almost raped” in pursuit of more drugs. After that, she said she cleaned up her act and accepted a job with Club Med in Florida, where she says she detoxed.

As part of the Club Med gig, she found herself staying in some rather posh hotels, and realized she’d collected a few too many toiletries from a few too many luxury washrooms. It seemed like a good idea to give them away back home in Whalley.

“One day I thought, what am I going to do with all this soap?” Beckstead said. “That’s when I came to the realization of giving back to my community. I wanted to make a small difference in the lives of others. So I started wrapping all my hotel toiletries into beautifully wrapped Christmas hampers and I only had only a few volunteers (in 2011).”

The fentanyl epidemic that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in B.C. so far this year only motivates Beckstead more.

See also: Average of 15 die of overdose each month in Surrey in 2017

See more: Count finds 49 per cent more homeless people in Surrey

She noted while Surrey is the second largest city in B.C., known for having a diverse community and a great place to live for culture and community activities, “we also have homelessness and poverty.”

“A huge number of homeless and drug addicted people are living on the streets or in a shelter, or some find treatment in our recovery homes,” she said. “So there is a huge need for helping people.”

An average of 15 people have died of overdose each month in Surrey in 2017.

“This community needs our help in so many ways,” she added.

See also: Video of Surrey’s tent city on 135A street goes viral

See also: Province not helping house Surrey’s homeless fast enough: mayor

Asked what keeps her coming back to 135A Street, year after year, Beckstead replied, “this keeps me sober.”

“It keeps me grateful for the things I do have,” she smiled.

“It’s very cold outside and they need help. They’re very kind, they appreciate the help. They really, really do.”

To get involved, or to donate, call Beckstead at 778-233-4344, email whalleysantacause@hotmail.com or visit whalleysantacause.yolasite.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock and Surrey RCMP – along with police forces across the province – have launched their holiday CounterAttack campaigns. (Contributed graphic)
White Rock, Surrey RCMP CounterAttack campaigns underway

Enforcement ramps up to remove impaired drivers from cities’ roadways

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judge finds Surrey RCMP breached two robbery suspects’ Charter rights

This was in connection with the robbery of the Ritecare Pharmacy in Surrey on Oct. 10, 2017

Firefighters battle a house fire in Fleetwood on Dec. 2, 2020. (Photos: Shane MacKichan)
One man sent to hospital, two people arrested after Surrey fire

‘This was so frightening to see in person,’ witness posts after blaze at 160th Street and 89th Avenue

Martha Currie Elementary is holding a fundraising raffle. (Image via Google Maps)
Ecole Martha Currie is holding a fundraising raffle

4,000 tickets for sale in school raffle

This year’s White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive was the best yet, organizers say. (Contributed photo)
White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive ‘best ever’

Month-long annual event wrapped up Dec. 1

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Suspect tries to thwart police in Abbotsford with false 911 call about men with guns

Man twice sped away from officers and then tried to throw them off his trail

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read