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Long lineup spotted for Richmond Christmas Fund at Lansdowne

Fifteen distribution days are scheduled to help spread out the crowd.

A long lineup inside Richmond's Lansdowne Shopping Centre on Wednesday was not for the food court nor ICBC, but rather for the annual Richmond Christmas Fund.

The Richmond Christmas Fund, organized by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives (RCRG), helps low-income families celebrate the winter holidays every year.

Its registration and distribution were moved to Lansdowne after losing access to its longtime location this year.

Ed Gavsie, president and CEO of RCRG, said they anticipated more people needing help, but the lineup on the first day was something they did not fully expect.

"For whatever reason, and we don't know what the reason is, people just wanted to come out on the first day," said Gavsie.

"We are anticipating more people asking for help, but we don't know what that number is because there was no pre-registration."

To address the increased number of people seeking help and to not disrupt mall businesses, RCRG expanded their normal distributions from four to 15 days with shorter hours to spread out the crowd.

Some people in line on Wednesday were told they needed to return another day as the organization could not keep their volunteers past their assigned hours, explained Gavsie.

"The message we want to get out is that there are 14 more days of distribution," he said.

"We have lots of toys and lots of cards and if people want to avoid the lineups they are encouraged to come on another day."

Gavsie told the Richmond News this year may be the "most challenging year" he has seen since he has been with RCRG, citing the economy as the main reason for people needing more help than ever.

"Our donations are down significantly by well over 10 per cent over the years on average," he said, but they are prepared enough to help those who are turning them to be able to celebrate the holidays.

"My hope is that this is just a first-day phenomenon and people can realize there are other days they can come in."

For the new location and a list of distribution dates and times, click here.

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