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Richmond Christmas Fund ready to 'mobilize'

“The Christmas Fund is the definition of food, toys and a memorable holiday season; but that doesn’t happen without the community.
Richmond Christmas Fund Committee
The 12 members of the Richmond Christmas Fund committee (left to right): Ed Gavsie, Alvin Chow, Rob Howard, Kim McLachlan, Wayne Duzita, Sharon Bonner, Eda Koot, Gail Terry, Michael Chiu, Christine Brodie, Rick Duff and Jocelyn Wong. Photo submitted

“The Christmas Fund is the definition of food, toys and a memorable holiday season; but that doesn’t happen without the community.”


That’s the message from Wayne Duzita, chair of the Richmond Christmas Fund, adding that the 12-member Richmond Christmas Fund committee, “army base” and the public is what is ensuring a holiday season for low-income Richmond resident this year.

The Richmond Christmas Fund is an annual program that provides toys and gift vouchers to families who may be struggling to celebrate the holidays, and through the program 11,000 toys and over $120,000 gift cards were distributed last year.

Duzita specifically commended the aforementioned army, which consists of a group of 150 members, that supports the annual program. This group, said Duzita, was created after he attended a breakfast meeting in 2010.

Duzita was inspired by the idea of getting many people to do a little, instead of a few people doing a lot, about 10 years ago after hearing a speaker introduce the concept. It’s what gave him the idea to start the Richmond Christmas Fund Army.

“We all rely on a certain number of people in a community and there is always this core group of people that supports the Richmond Christmas Fund throughout the year on many things that we do.”

This is in addition to the diversity of the Richmond Christmas Fund committee, he added.

This year’s committee is made of 12 members from multiple areas and industries in the Richmond community.

“The group came together with specific skills unique to themselves and contributed at a high level to make the events happen,” said Duzita.

“The 12 members who have been together, this year particularly, have done a job that I did not think at the beginning of the year was really possible.”

The committee includes Ed Gavsie, CEO of Richmond Cares Richmond Gives(RCRG); Eda Koot, with Pacific Gateway Hotel; Gail Terry and Kim McLachlan, with Richmond Automall;  Sharon Bonner, with All Bright Designs; Alvin Chow, publisher of the Richmond News; Rick Duff; Jocelyn Wong, with RCRG; Christine Brodie, city representative; and co-chairs Michael Chiu and Rob Howard with the Richmond Christmas Fund.

And while many fundraising events had to be cancelled this year because of pandemic restrictions, the community came together in a different way.

The Richmond Christmas Fund launched an “angel donor” program, where donors would donate $10,000 each to help with the annual event, and to the committee’s surprise, eight donors contributed – four times the anticipated goal.

“Our ‘angel donors’ have become the base of the funding for the Christmas Fund and we have received more than what we thought we could get, which gives us an incredible base this year,” said Duzita.

The committee, he added, had to re-imagine one of their biggest fundraisers for the Christmas Fund – A Not So Silent Night auction – that could no longer take place.

This year’s auctions will be taking place online, one is a pay to play and the other a public auction.

Thirty individuals have paid $1,000 to bring nine of their friends to the private reserve auction to bid for car-related activities, while the public auction goes out to the “army list” and the community.

The donations, Duzita added, will greatly help in making sure families get the gift vouchers they need as well as toys for the kids this holiday.

“I don’t think a lot of people see how much work goes in to these event and how many hours that people contribute from their businesses and their personal lives to make this happen,” said Duzita.

“It’s a tremendous amount of effort for the common goal of helping people to enjoy the holiday season.”