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Santa of Richmond Christmas Fund looks back at years of progress

Wayne Duzita worked as the chair of the organization for the past 15 years
Wayne Duzita
Wayne Duzita, dubbed as the Santa of the Richmond Christmas Fund, will be stepping down from his position as chair after this year.

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

This is a quote that Wayne Duzita lives by.

Duzita has been working as the chair of the Richmond Christmas Fund program for the past 15 years but will pass the torch to former MLA Linda Reid after this season.

He told the Richmond News that gratitude best describes his time working with the Christmas Fund.

“I’m proud of what the Christmas Fund has become,” said Duzita, adding that the organization’s success is thanks to the community and people he has worked with these past years.

When he took on the role of chair, he said he knew he needed to guide the program “somewhere else” but was not sure where.

“I knew we needed to create a brand and a purpose,” said Duzita.

His vision and goal for the organization, he added, were to create programs and bring together a community to support those in need.

Since Dutiza took the helm he's brought in a variety of new initiatives, including creating the Richmond Christmas Fund Army, the Not So Silent Night Auction, the Angel Donor program as well as working in collaboration with the Richmond RCMP for the annual toy drive.

When asked what motivates him to continue working, not only as the chair of the Christmas Fund but also for other charitable organizations, Duzita said it may have to do with his “need to be needed."

“Seeing community participation and commitment does enlighten your life with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, knowing you have made someone else's life a little better.”

Duzita describes the role of chair of the Christmas Fund, as one of “directing and pointing,” while the real work gets done by everyone else, including the Christmas fund “army,”

One of Duzita’s many accomplishments as chair was to recognize that too few volunteers were doing too much work. To help lighten the load and pulled together a group of 165 individuals and organizations. Without them, the Fund would not be where it is today, Duzita added.

But despite the organization’s successes, it still faces challenges, the biggest of which is educating people who have resources about the need for help.

With significant foreign investments and luxurious homes, people tend to see Richmond as a wealthy community, according to Duzita.

“The challenge was, and still is in some ways, is to educate people that there are those in need who are struggling in our community. We don’t see people on the streets or living in tents in our city, but the people who are suffering the most are those living paycheque to paycheque.”

At the end of the day, it is about the public coming together, making people understand, empathize and help where they can, he added.

Duzita is grateful for being able to work with different organizations that share the same values as the Fund, and he hopes the organization will “continue to grow no matter who is sitting at the chair level.”

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