13th Annual Victor Ghirra Toy Drive collects over 3,000 toys

SECRET Santas from Metro Vancouver gathered in Richmond on Saturday for the 13th Annual Victor Ghirra Toy Drive grand count event.  Victor’s generous spirit lives on helping those who need it most, bringing hundreds of people together to make an impact on children’s holidays.  With the help of the Benevolent Brotherhood Society, the Ghirra family, the Co-operators Insurance agencies, Riverside Banquet Halls, TuGo Travel Insurance and Vancity Credit Union, they collected over 3,000 toys.

This toy drive in memory of Victor continues to bring hope to thousands of boys and girls.  Neeta Ghirra, Victor’s sister-in-law, said: “This toy drive is something special for our family that grows year after year and has become a big year-end get-together for everyone that wants to make a difference.” Riverside Banquet Hall was full of holiday cheer for this free annual family holiday event, with festive décor, a photo booth with Santa, a kids’ bouncy castle, William Cook Elementary School’s Christmas choir and tasty treats for everyone to enjoy.

Victor was involved in many charitable initiatives, but one charity that Victor was really touched by was the BC Children’s Hospital.  A heartwarming story that depicts Victor’s character was when he would buy thousands of dollars of toys every Christmas and go to Children’s Hospital to donate them to needy children.  When they would ask, “Who are you and where are these toys from?”  Victor would simply reply, “It doesn’t matter who I am or where I am from, these toys are for the kids and that’s all you need to know.”

It was later found that Victor had made trips to the hospital for over a dozen years.  Victor was just being Victor, he didn’t tell anyone what he was up to.

Victor had such a profound impact on the people he worked with that many are still deeply involved with the toy drive.  Moya Matick, Office Manager with the Co-operators, said: “The Co-operators District and Agency staff are so proud to once again to continue to support the good causes that need our help at this time of year.  We raised $1,250 and brought over 200 toys to make the holidays brighter for those who need it.” 

Jerry Gamble, Business Development Manager, TuGo Travel Insurance, who also worked with Victor at VanCity Insurance and looks forward to the toy drive every year, said: “This year we had two employee groups come together, volunteer at the toy drive and we had $1,425 raised to spend on toys.  Next year, we hope we can encourage more employees to join us and make an even bigger impact.”

The annual toy drive dedicated to Victor was able to help 14 good causes this year: Children’s Hospital, Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, Key Solutions, Richmond Christmas Fund, Options BC, Canuck Place, Nightshift Ministries – Care Centre, North Shore Family Services – Christmas Bureau, Second Stage Women’s Centre, Ray-Cam Community Centre, Peardonville House, Surrey Christmas Bureau and two local schools with families in need.  More than 40,650-plus toys have been collected over the past 13 years in memory of Victor.

Harvey Kooner of BBS, founder of the toy drive, said: “It is really heartwarming to see how this toy drive grows year after year.  Dedicated volunteers on our planning committee spark a whole community to come out and give back.  This is all about giving hope during the holiday season and showing that there are people out there that care.  This toy drive is supported by hundreds of Secret Santas that just want to do good, it is thanks to their generosity that we help so many charities.”

For more information on how you can make a difference with next year’s toy drive, contact Harvey Kooner at 604-671-4180 or harveykooner1@gmail.com.