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New West restaurant to serve up holiday spirit – with toys

Piva hosting a toy drive for Elizabeth Fry Society
Subraaz Abdullah, executive chef at Piva Modern Italian, which is hosting a toy drive for the Elizabeth Fry Society. The Columbia Street restaurant normally hosts a Christmas meal for the New West-based society but can’t do that this year because of COVID-19. Instead, it's collecting toys for the unprecedented number of kids EFry is helping this year. Photo: Jennifer Gauthier

Piva Modern Italian has found a 2020-friendly way to support the Elizabeth Fry Society – with help from local residents.

In recent years, Piva has donated and hosted a holiday dinner for the non-profit society’s clients.

“Piva has generously supported EFry's clients for the past two years," said Shawn Bayes, EFry Vancouver's executive director. "They provided a lovely meal with all the trimmings for the women living in our homeless and transitional housing programs, and a mountain of presents under their tree for children to choose from. When the pandemic hit in March, they called to make a large donation to help us, even as their restaurant had to close temporarily. We are so grateful to have a local business supporting their neighbours in such an impactful way."

Although the dinner couldn’t be held this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, Piva decided to host a holiday toy drive for the society.

The Elizabeth Fry Society says it’s facing “unprecedented need for children’s gifts” this year.

"This year, our client base has grown dramatically. Back in March, many people who relied on in-person supports for basic needs found some of their usual services closed, so they came to us and are still accessing our programs,” Bayes said. “As an essential service, EFry was determined to keep our doors open and do all we could to keep vulnerable women and children safe. The holidays are always a time of great need and this year, it's more acute than ever. We have more than 1,000 children on our Santa list, so this toy drive will help bring smiles to a lot of faces that have had a really tough year."

Community members are invited to drop off a toy during Piva’s opening hours; gifts will be acknowledged with a paper heart bearing the donors initials that are being displayed in Piva's window.

Piva customers who donate a toy while either dining in or doing takeout will enjoy a free For Nonna dessert, which is a combination of crispy phyllo, cherry compote and vanilla bean mascarpone.

Donations will be collected through Dec. 22, allowing time to wrap and deliver the gifts to EFry's child clients.

Piva is located at 787 Columbia Street in New Westminster. For more information, call Piva at 604-522-0221 or go to