Adopt-a-Family Holiday Programs in Vancouver

Comments 1 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Update 2011: You can still sponsor a family in Surrey, I am unsure about Vancouver programs this year.

Update 2015: Here is the latest information about sponsoring a family in Surrey this year.

With the anticipation of presents under the tree and bountiful holiday meals around the table with family, this time of year can actually be very stressful. Aside from trying to find parking at the local mall, some carry the burden of not being able to afford groceries, let alone the gift their child may have at the top of their wish list. Making ends meet to cover very basic needs can be a struggle and every family deserves some special cheer this Christmas.

Home for the Holidays at Sutton Place Hotel - for Canuck Place

There are two ‘adopt-a-family’ programs in town for 2010 where you can sign up, pair with a family, and deliver their wish list (from a turkey for dinner to stocking stuffers for the kids).

The YWCA Vancouver is partnering with families in their program this year. If you’re able to pair up, you’ll receive their “wish list” so that you can complete a holiday hamper. 50 families are in need of hampers by December 17th. You can sign up for the program online today. You can also donate a lump sum and YWCA volunteers will do the shopping for you.

Salvation Army
Through the Salvation Army Vancouver Community & Family Services, you can help create a special Christmas for a Vancouver family in need by providing a Christmas hamper. You can get group together to complete a hamper, including items such as groceries for a turkey dinner as well as gifts for children and parents. You can download a sponsorship package online to get started. A full list of suggested hamper items can be downloaded as well.

Should you know of any other initiatives like these, please feel free to drop a note in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

Beach Photowalk in Mexico

Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

I’ve been ending every day here in Mexico with a walk on the beach with John. Yesterday we brought out our cameras and wandered just about 200 meters off the resort’s beach to adjacent rocky shores. Chasing the sunset, we captured the incoming tide, fossilized imprints, and some unexpected castaways.

Photowalk in Mexico

Akumal, Mexico - December 2010

Photowalk in Mexico

Photowalk in Mexico Photowalk in Mexico
Akumal, Mexico - December 2010 Akumal, Mexico - December 2010

Photowalk in Mexico

Photowalk in Mexico

Located on the Eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Quintana Roo region along the Caribbean Sea our resort is a part of the Bahia Principe Ecological Foundation that protects (as best it can) the surrounding swamps, rain forests, and coral reefs. We don’t have miles of sandy beaches as some waterfront areas are separated by rock walls or man-made breakers to protect the reefs. Any garbage that comes ashore here is (I assume) promptly swept up and disposed of. Unfortunately just off the resort, there are no workers or volunteers to clean up what might wash ashore.

Photowalk in Mexico Photowalk in Mexico
Photowalk in Mexico Photowalk in Mexico
Photowalk in Mexico Photowalk in Mexico

It was rather depressing to find so much junk during our quick stroll but it was a small dose of reality. Within sight of our villas we were hopscotching over flippers, shoes, drink containers, a doll’s arm, an asthma inhaler, and motor oil bottles.

Photowalk in Mexico

Photowalk in Mexico

Akumal, Mexico - December 2010

Back at the Gran Bahia Principe the ground is raked and the trees are pruned. Dump trucks beep as they back up and deliver piles of white sand to cover coarse white stones.

Akumal, Mexico - December 2010

This morning I lay comfortably under palm branches listening to the white-capped waves crash and turn to foam — and I couldn’t help but imagine the handful of trash each one must carry… and where it may have started its journey.

All photos are available on Flickr in John’s set or my own.

Holiday Events in the Tri-Cities

Comments 1 by Guest Author

The following was contributed by Jon Strocel of

With the days getting shorter and the lights going up, we in the Tri-Cities are busy enjoying the holiday season. If you’re ever out in our neck of the Inlet, there are a bunch of cool events happening in the next week or so to get you in the holiday spirit faster than “1 part Eggnog, 3 parts Rum.”

What: Tree of Memories
When: Thursday, December 2 – Friday, January 7, Daylight to Dusk
Where: Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery [map]
The scoop: A quiet opportunity for people to celebrate memories during the holiday season. Visitors can bring an ornament and place it on the tree in honour of their loved ones.
More info: 604.927.6020


What: Breakfast with Santa
When: Saturday, December 11 from 9:00-11:00am
Where: Wilson Centre [map]
The scoop: Breakfast with the jolly old elf himself! Join us for entertainment, crafts, face painting, and a sing-along. Tickets are $7 per person (0-3 years free).
More info: 604.927.7970

What: Tiny Tots: Holiday Hooray!
When: Saturday, December 11 at 10:00 and 11:30am
Where: Terry Fox Theatre [map]
The scoop: Let Your Music Shine – With Lisa and Linda! Move along with famous pieces from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and sing along with frosty favourites. In this celebration of the sounds of the season, join the March of the Toys, do the Skaters’ Waltz, and play imaginary drums to the 1812 Overture.
More info: 604.468.9403

What: An Afternoon of Music and Cookie Decorating
When: Saturday, December 11 from 12:00-4:00pm
Where: Mackin House Museum [map]
The scoop: Enjoy a Heritage Christmas with carolers and festive music. Saxophonist, Marlon Paulus, plays at 1pm; The Glen Pine Singers entertain at 2pm and the Lindbjerg Academy performs at 3pm. The Museum will be decorated as it would have been in 1909. We will be icing cookies in our heritage kitchen.
More info: 604.516.6151

What: Holiday Under the Sea
When: Saturday, December 11 from 1:00-3:00pm
Where: Hyde Creek Recreation Centre [map]
The scoop: Join our staff in a bubbly holiday adventure. Santa might even make an early underwater appearance! Lots of great games to celebrate the holidays – come out and join the fun. Happy Holidays from all the aquatic staff at Hyde Creek!
More info: 604.927.7946 or [email protected]

What: The Bells of Christmas
When: Saturday, December 11 at 8:00pm
Where: Evergreen Cultural Centre [map]
The scoop: Ring in the Christmas Season with the Bells of PSWE. Ukrainian Bell Carol, Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and Ian McDougal’s Bells will have the sounds of the season ringing in your ears!
More info: 604.927.6555


What: Holiday Tea
When: Sunday, December 12 and 19 from 1:00-3:00pm
Where: Port Moody Station Museum [map]
The scoop: This December bring your family for some old fashioned holiday fun at the Port Moody Station Museum. They’ll be serving tea and hot cocoa on our 1920s train car. Enjoy watching the festive holiday lights on the station or listening to classic holiday music while cozying up to a hot drink and sweet treat. $5 per person, no reservations required.
More info: 604.939.1648

What: A Ceremony of Carols
When: Sunday, December 12 at 3:00 and 7:00pm
Where: Evergreen Cultural Centre [map]
The scoop: Two shimmering concerts featuring Christmas songs new and old. The afternoon show offers a chance to celebrate the season with the glorious sound of children’s voices. The evening show features glorious traditional and contemporary holiday choral music. Presented by Coastal Sound Music Academy.
More info: 604.927.6555

What: A Retro Christmas
When: Sunday, December 12 at 6:00pm
Where: Terry Fox Theatre [map]
The scoop: Broadway Bound Performing Arts studio is a unique studio with the sole purpose of training youth in all aspects of musical theatre and dance. Join us for an old fashioned variety show the whole family will enjoy!
More info: 604.468.9403

What: Really Big Christmas Show
When: Sunday, December 12 at 8:00pm
Where: Inlet Theatre [map]
The scoop: Come out for a night of music, fun and family, all in benefit of the SPCA. Featuring artists from past and present Very Vancouver Christmas albums, including: Danny Echo, Cupla, Pam Carr, Sillken, Gillian Hobbs, The Light Machines, Michelle Richard, Laura Biagini, Matt Stanley & The Decoys, Debbie Bergeron, Treebeard, Sheldon Witt, Ranj Singh & The Discriminators, with Kent McAlister, our MC and all around nice guy!
More info: 604.294.3007

What: Glen Pine Christmas Luncheon
When: Tuesday, December 14 from 12:00-2:30pm
Where: Glen Pine Pavilion [map]
The scoop: Celebrate early with a traditional turkey meal followed by dessert and entertainment at the Glen Pine Pavilion Great Room. Yuletide entertainment provided by the Glen Pine Singers and special guest.
More info: [email protected]

What: Corbin: My Last Song For You
When: Friday, December 17 and Saturday, December 18, 7:30pm
Where: Evergreen Cultural Centre [map]
The scoop: An evening of song and holiday inspiration with Corbin Vanderzalm. Presented by Theatrix Youth Theatre.
More info: 604.927.6555

What: Canadian Pacific Holiday Train Arrives in Port Moody
When: Friday, December 17, around 9:15pm
Where: Queen Street and Clark Avenue, Downtown Port Moody [map]
The scoop: The Holiday Train visits 140 communities across Canada and the US, finally ending up in Port Moody. Bring a non-perishable food item and check out the brightly lit train.
More info: Check out the Holiday Train Website

I’ll leave you with the strangely awesome promo video for the Holiday Train. Happy Holidays from all of us at

This post was written by Jon Strocel, who contributes to along with his wife, Amber. Their blog highlights news and events in and around Port Moody and the Tri-Cities. Jon tweets snarky things at @jstrocel. You can also catch up with Amber’s musings on life and parenting at

Beauty Night Celebrates 10 Years

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s been 10 years since Caroline MacGillivray started Beauty Night, a non-profit organization in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that is committed to bettering the self-esteem, image, and lives of women living in poverty. Due to her efforts and the dedication of over 400 volunteers over the years, 11,000 life-makeovers have been performed.

In 2009, Caroline was nominated as a YWCA Woman of Distinction and I had the chance to interview her about Beauty Night. “We are able to work together to make a difference in the lives of many, Caroline told me. “Our volunteers empower the women and themselves by sharing their gifts (skills) with the clients. The programs bridge the gap between different areas of society. I believe this creates a synergy for us to make a positive impact by breaking down barriers and working together.”

You can contribute by volunteering your time, services, or beauty products such as mascara wands, nail files, and barbacide. Monetary donations can be made online.

Beauty Night’s anniversary party will be December 15th at the Inter Urban Gallery from 5:00pm until 10:00pm. Everyone is welcome to attend (for free) to celebrate and reflect upon this milestone. RSVP’s can be made online.

Follow Beauty Night on Twitter and Facebook for updates, news, and information.

Pacific Ice Annual Christmas Gala 2010

Comments 1 by Rebecca Bollwitt

One of the most unique event notifications to hit my inbox recently was from the Pacific Ice Synchronized Skating Club. On Saturday, December 11th, they will be hosting their 6th Annual Christmas Gala featuring 20 synchronized skating teams from across BC and even Washington State.

Pacific Ice Synchronized Skating Club

Bring a non-perishable food item donation for the Surrey Food Bank to attend between 1:30pm and 4:30pm at the South Surrey Arena. Raffle prizes will be available including Canucks tickets, a free night in Whistler, wine, and a 50/50 draw.

Appealing to ice skating fans, dancers, young and old, this is the perfect opportunity to check out this graceful sport while contributing to a great local cause.