For the 15th year, Christmas Haven is bringing people together to celebrate the warmth of the season.
"The point is that you don't have to be alone on Christmas Eve," said Maple Ridge Councillor Corisa Bell of Christmas Haven.
The event, always held Dec. 24, was designed to do exactly that: give people a place to go, celebrate, and feel connected to others on what could otherwise be a lonely night.
Nearly 40 organizations and numerous volunteers made the event possible in 2011, and according to Bell, all of the volunteer roles are already filled for this year.
"We have filled all the volunteer spots," she said. "The community had been so amazing putting forth their time for this special evening."
At this time, the big need for Christmas Haven is cash donations and gifts for teens or adults. Monetary gifts can be donated at either the Pitt Meadows or Maple Ridge recreation centres.
And, a drop-off box for new, unwrapped gifts is set up at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre.
Held at The ACT, Christmas Haven starts at 6 p.m. and includes a full turkey dinner, a gift from Santa, and is open to everyone, regardless of age, religious affiliation, or ethnicity.
"We'll have some different entertainment this year," noted Bell, who listed a number of acts expected to keep toes tapping and faces smiling. The Maple Ridge Concert Band, Rory McRury, David Parent, and the Maple Ridge Dance Circle will all be on stage throughout the evening.
A new addition is the provision of transportation for seniors and those who would have challenges getting to the event, said Bell.
"We're pretty excited about it."
About 300 guests are expected for this year's Christmas Eve event. For those thinking about attending, wondering about the transportation options, or wanting more information, the best resource is the Christmas Haven website at www.christmashaven.ca.
"Everyone is welcome to come out," Bell commented. "It's a big celebration."