On Saturday, November 18, the Richmond Christmas Fund’s eighth annual toy drive took place. Hosted by Richmond RCMP, the event drew hundreds of people, over 1 1/2 tons of toys and raised over $26,000. It also landed a few local celebrities in the dunk tank.
“We have a major donor, Summit Customs Brokers, who donated $10,000 if the commanding officer of the Richmond detachment agreed to be submerged,” said Ed Gavsie, president and CEO of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives.
Last year, the lucky dunkee was then-chief Supt. Will Ng. This year it was the new man, Chief Supt. Dave Chauhan.
“He was dunked by the mayor—on the mayor’s first roll. Then Henry Yao, Richmond South-Centre MLA, volunteered to be dipped as well.
The Richmond Christmas Fund was founded 90 years ago by Ethel Tibbits, editor of the now-defunct Richmond Review. It is now a Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives program. RCRG, a registered charity now in its 50th year, serves as a volunteer and giving center, and operates the Child Care Resource & Referral Center and a variety of community support services for senior citizens. The Richmond Christmas Fund relies on the support of community partners such as the Empty Stocking Fund.
In addition to distributing more than 12,000 toys, the Richmond Christmas Fund gives each eligible family a Save-On-Foods gift card per member.
“We know from unsolicited testimony that many people would not be able to get a festive meal or toys for their children without this help,” Gavsie said. “What we’re seeing in Richmond isn’t working. All the parents’ money goes to rent, food and clothing. There is not much disposable income to go around.”
This year’s toy campaign produced record results, says Gavsie.
“There is still a pallet of toys that needs to be weighed, but even without it we are where we were last year in terms of weight.”
A 505-JUNK truck with a scale was on site to weigh the toys.
“We’ve never been able to count them because they come in too quickly.”
Once the toys are collected, Gavsie, his colleagues and volunteers get to work packing and handing out.
“We did a distribution run on the same day as the toy promotion,” he said. And over the next three Saturdays, we’ll be handing them out to those who sign up. Then we have some special distributions where certain service providers come into the toy room and pick toys and get their cards, and people with counselors or servants who can’t be part of a large crowd.
Nearly a decade later, the toy ride has taken on a life of its own, he says.
“We have many new partners, such as Coca-Cola with their caravan, a photo room with Santa Claus and a caricaturist. I know that in conversations with the mini donut truck driver, we handed out more bags of mini donuts this year than we did last year. Every year it gets a little bigger.”