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In spite of the pandemic, Santa will come for the children of Richmond

By Lorraine Graves

Published 12:57 PST, Wed November 18, 2020

As if the weather were showing its goodwill, Tuesday’s wind and rain let up for the Richmond RCMP’s annual toy drive kick-off at Lansdowne Centre. 

Proceeds from the toy drive go towards the Richmond Christmas Fund operated by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives.

“Anything we can do for the kids, that’s my passion,” says RCMP Staff Sgt. Jet Sunner.

There were worries that the pandemic would dampen the Christmas spirit of many, according to Christmas Fund co-chair Wayne Duzita. Last year, the fund’s major event, A Not So Silent Night at the Richmond Auto Mall netted $110,000. 

So far, fundraising this year has netted the organization approximately $125,000 according to Duzita, assuaging worries that companies would not step up to help this year.

Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives’ Ed Gavsie mentions more recent good news. “We just found out this morning that, new this year, the fund will receive $10,000 in toys from Canadian Tire.”

RCMP Cpl. Roy Wong points out another new donor has come on board because of the pandemic. 

“Platinum Pro-Claim will sanitize all the toys donated by the public so they are safe,” he says.

The list of corporate donors from our community is long. One major donor is Herbaland. Both CEO Musharaf Syed and co-founder Aisha Yang were at the kick-off event.

“When I started my business 11 years ago, I knew I had to do something for charity,” says Syed.

And Yang, who originally hails from Taiwan, helped Herbaland support homeless kids in the mountains of her homeland and things progressed from there.

“We started here with Easter Seals, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Help Change My City, which is a local grassroots organization,” says Yang. “We are grateful to live in this amazing country.”

RCMP Cst. Sylvia Chan has also issued a challenge to others in law enforcement. 

“We in law enforcement are a big family so we challenge all others in this family to support the Richmond Christmas Fund,” she says.

Chen says that members of the Canadian Border Services Agency as well as US Customs officials who live and work in Richmond will also be helping at the drive-through toy collection. 

As the RCMP’s Sunner says of the community coming together to make sure all children can get a Christmas present, “This is great!”

Richmondites are asked to donate unwrapped new toys this Saturday, Nov. 21 from 8 a.m.to 1 p.m. at the Richmond Christmas Fund drive-through toy drive at Lansdowne Centre.

Herbaland’s Yang is clear: “When you have the ability to give back, don’t wait.”

The RCMP has also made a short video promoting the toy drive, viewable online.

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