A charming country neighbourhood of Mt Lehman in Abbotsford, the backdrop for over 50 Hallmark Christmas movies, opened its doors for a second Christmas home tour for a cause. All proceeds went to IJM to support the fight against human trafficking.
In 2018, the Friesen family — Bruce, Sylvia and their daughter Cara attended an IJM conference and were moved by the stories of rescue and the perseverance of the field office teams.
During the conference, Sylvia and Cara attended a workshop led by Blythe Hill, founder of Dressember, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Blythe challenged her audience to use what they had and find creative ways to support the fight against human trafficking.
On the flight back home, the family brainstormed ways to champion the cause they were so passionate about. They came up with the idea of showcasing their neighbourhood, which had served as a backdrop for over 20 Hallmark movies at the time, by turning it into a Christmas Home Tour.
The first ideas were scribbled on an airplane lunch napkin as they brainstormed how it might look.
Soon after, Sylvia and her three daughters began planning and organizing their Christmas home tour.
"Someone had the idea of leveraging the ‘fame’ of our homes in Christmas movies and our wonderful neighbourhood and doing a Christmas Home Tour. The surprise was how the media, online, TV, radio and newspaper picked up the tour and promoted it as a great Christmas event with all proceeds to IJM.” Sylvia Friesen.
The 2019 tour was an incredible success. They welcomed over 3,000 guests and raised $100,000 to help bring rescue, freedom and restoration to people trapped in human trafficking around the world!
Now, four years later, the Christmas home tour came back!
This year, the family was inspired to do a second tour to amplify the movement to end human trafficking. The tour featured seven houses and was reimagined with new exciting additions! In each home, guests could discover the way different families decorate for Christmas, enjoy live music and learn more about IJM’s work.
Guests were able to access:
- Santa’s Gazebo
- A Christmas Cafe with specialty fair-trade coffee and baked goods
- A Mini Market where makers have donated their goods to be sold for IJM
- A Candy Cottage
- A magical attic with a 52,000 pieces Lego Christmas train
- A QR code scavenger hunt to discover which movies the homes have been featured in.
- A giant Giving tree with items from IJM’s Gift Catalogue that can be purchased to support further IJM’s mission
“We were thinking that the gift tree is a way to bring people together in relationship. How much more meaningful for a family or a group of friends to decide together that they will choose a ‘gift of rescue’ from the giving tree and be part of the movement to eradicate human trafficking, instead of gifts that no one really needs. If you don’t know what to get someone for Christmas - this is an option for everyone on your list!”
The 2023 results are in!
The family dreamed big and wanted to surpass what they accomplished in 2019 by doubling the amount they were able to raise for IJM. During their 5-day tour, they welcomed over 4,000 people who contributed to their fundraising goal through ticket sales and by purchasing items from the Candy Cottage, the Christmas Cafe and the Giving Tree. Every dollar went to that goal, and not only did they achieve it, but they also exceeded it by raising over $250,000.
This incredible achievement will fund around 22 rescue operations that will provide everything IJM needs — from initial investigations to immediate aftercare. It will help us find and rescue vulnerable children, women and families, investigate cases with local law enforcement, gather evidence to hold perpetrators accountable and support survivors with immediate needs once they've been rescued.
We’re so grateful for the Mt. Lehman Christmas Home Tour, their creativity and heart for this mission and for all who attended and gave so generously to contribute to ending human trafficking and rescuing children around the world, especially because children remain disproportionately vulnerable to modern slavery.
In fact, 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children. That's because children are, by nature, in a vulnerable state. Traffickers prey on this vulnerability by targeting situations where children are left unprotected or use deceitful promises to manipulate them, ultimately forcing them into forced labour or sexual exploitation.
At IJM, we believe that we can end modern slavery and violence against children in our lifetime. We know it's possible with the dedication of supporters like the people part of this Mt Lehman neighbourhood and caring people like you who share a compassionate commitment to this cause and are building a movement to end slavery in our lifetime.
Initiatives like this exemplify the power of a community coming together to find creative approaches to use just what they have — like their homes to make a tangible impact in the fight against slavery.
By leveraging our resources, each one of us can contribute to the effort to end human trafficking and protect the vulnerable.
About International Justice Mission:
International Justice Mission partners with local authorities in 29 program offices in 17 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children and police abuse of power. IJM’s mission is to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts. Learn more at: IJM.ca