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Toy Drive honours man with a golden heart

By Don Fennell

Published 2:50 PST, Tue December 3, 2019

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

The Victor Ghirra Story is one of humility and humanity. It is of a man who dedicated his life to serving others.

Known as a gentle giant, the Richmond man is remembered each Christmas with an annual toy drive that has distributed some 33,000 toys to dozens of needy organizations.

“There (have been) so many heartwarming stories shared about his life, the great person he was, but the one that touched me the most was finding out that Victor had quietly been purchasing thousands of dollars in toys for Children’s Hospital, and donating them to needy children who weren’t as lucky as his own,” says Harvey Kooner, who pays homage to his friend each year by organizing the toy drive.

When asked “Who are you, where are these toys from, which organization?,” Ghirra would humbly reply, “It doesn’t matter. These toys are for the kids, and that’s all you need to know.”

It turned out Ghirra had been making trips to the hospital for over a dozen years. He was simply being himself, never sharing with anyone his mission.

After learning of this, and being touched by Ghirra’s generosity, Kooner knew he had to find a way to honour the man.

“He was a best friend to all,” says Kooner. “Once Victor was your friend, you were golden. He would do anything for his friends.”

Kooner says during this festive time of the year when children need hope, or families need a helping hand, “we want to be there to provide this and continue Victor’s legacy. When we hear of a family or organization that is in need, we reach out and help. We know this is what Victor would do, and with the help of the community that’s what we’re doing.”

Kooner and his colleagues hope this year to collect 3,000 toys and surpass 40,000 toys collected since the toy drive started in 2007.

To further inspire businesses or organizations to start a toy collection box in their office, Riverside Banquet halls is willing to help with a butter chicken appreciation lunch. General manager Bobby Ghirra can be reached at 604-244-7755 or at for more details.

Additionally, on Saturday, Dec. 14 from noon to 3 p.m., the 13th annual Victor Ghirra Toy Drive Grand Toy Count will be held at the Riverside Banquet Hall, 14500 River Rd. It’s a family event with a kids’ play area, light refreshments and snacks. Bring a toy and get your photo taken with Santa in a photo booth. To learn more, contact Kooner at 604-671-4108 or

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