The Christmas Bureau has been very near and dear to my heart since I was a very little girl.

My parents are originally from Brunei, a small country in Southeast Asia. They moved to Canada in the late 70s because my father believed it would be an ideal place to start a family. He had heard about the abundance of opportunities here that back home did not have to offer. With full optimism, my mother supported this dream and left the only place she had ever known.

Unfortunately life was not what she had expected. After being a stay-at-home mom for four years here in Edmonton, my mom had to cope with a divorce. She was now on her own with two kids, ages two and five. My father left her with absolutely nothing but us. She wasn’t working at the time, had no relatives here, no savings, no vehicle, and needed to find a new place to stay. With her very broken English and no work experience, finding a job was not an easy task.

The gift from the Christmas Bureau meant so much more than one meal on one day at Christmas time. It gave my mom hope for the future.”

Through all the hardships, my mom was able to get back on her feet. She found us a place to call home and with the help of social services was able to make ends meet. When I was old enough to start school, my mother had found a full-time job. She always worked so hard my whole entire life to make sure my brother and I had everything we needed. Even within all the adversity my mother faced, I had such a perfect childhood. Even holidays were so magical to me.

When I was very young, I remember that special day that came once a year right before Christmas time. My mom would wait by the window, with sheer excitement for her Christmas Bureau food hamper. A very nice person would always come and ring our doorbell, carrying that big box that brought so much joy to my mom. We always had the best Christmas dinner because of the delicious treats donated by really big-hearted people. I always loved the mandarin oranges the best!

I have never forgotten how the kindness of others helped my mother get through a very difficult time in our lives. I knew that one day I wanted to be able to return that joy to others, just as the Christmas Bureau did for us.

As soon as I received my driver’s licence, I contacted the Christmas Bureau and asked if I could volunteer as a hamper deliverer. It’s been 15 years now since my first day as a volunteer and I don’t ever want to stop. There are so many stories just like mine and every time I ring a doorbell, I remember that.

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