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Reindeer Bus and Toys for Tots Team delivers cheers this holiday season

Reindeer Bus and Toys for Tots Team delivers cheers this holiday season

A bus load of toys for Toys for Tots.
A bus load of toys for Toys for Tots.

Have you recently spotted one of our Reindeer Buses on Metro Vancouver’s streets? If so, you might have caught a glimpse of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Bus and our dedicated volunteer team – Sparky the Elf, Mr. Claus, and Mrs. Claus – en route to delivering some holiday cheer!

Every December, the Reindeer Bus and its helpers travel around Metro Vancouver over a four-day period the week before Christmas to collect unwrapped toys from bus depots, offices and other transit facilities. These toys are donated by TransLink enterprise employees (and sometimes customers too!) as part of our annual Toys for Tots campaign, which has become a holiday tradition that is inseparable from all others in Metro Vancouver for our employees.

The team also has special appointments such as visits to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and Ronald McDonald House. While 2020 brought new uncertainty and challenges, it didn’t stop Sparky the Elf and Mr. and Mrs. Claus from fulfilling their mission. That’s why they arranged a Zoom call to talk with the kids and their families at Canuck Place.

“As much as we would love to be there in person, safety is of the utmost importance. We were really glad we were still able to do it virtually,” says Mrs. Claus, a Coast Mountain Bus Company operator.

This year, the Toys for Tots team delivered more than 2,100 toys, and more than $2,000 in cash and gift certificates to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. This was made possible thanks to the generosity of employees in the TransLink enterprise, as well as the selfless dedication and hard work of the volunteer team, who spent additional hours to make this wonderful event happen.

Countless smiles were delivered too.

“The best part about volunteering on this campaign is to be able to bring smiles on people’s faces and see their joy and laughter. It doesn’t matter how old someone is. You get the same reaction from a five-year-old and 55-year-old,” says Sparky the Elf, an instructor with Coast Mountain Bus Company’s operator training department.

Over the 35-year history of Toys for Tots, nearly 87,000 toys and more than $50,000 dollars have now been delivered.

The tradition’s origins can be traced to 1985 when a group of bus operators at the Surrey Transit Centre decided to do something special for the community by collecting toys for families and children who need help putting one underneath the Christmas tree. The initiative exceeded expectations and quickly became popular with bus operators. Soon, employees from across the enterprise joined the effort and Toys for Tots was born.

The Toys for Tots campaign is just one of the many ways the TransLink enterprise and its employees contributed to its communities in 2020.

We continued our long-standing support for the United Way of the Lower Mainland, including participating in the annual workplace fundraising and Period Promise campaigns. Donation bins at SkyTrain stations collected unregistered Compass Cards from customers. Balances on these cards are distributed to those in need in partnership with the United Way.

Our staff also volunteered their time to make 625 masks for local charities and non-profits using fabric donated to TransLink by Fabricana.

As well, the TransLink Musicians Program went virtual for a few sessions in 2020 as we hosted online performances featuring our buskers – the musicians performing at SkyTrain stations.

Through our Access to Transit Program, we partnered with BC Housing, Transit Police, Homeless Services Society of BC to support those in shelters with access to transportation.

And as we look forward to 2021, we will continue to support our community through various initiatives. Learn more at translink.ca.

The Reindeer Bus gets ready to make its rounds picking up toys.
The Reindeer Bus gets ready to make its rounds picking up toys.