8th Annual Victor Ghirra Toy Drive kicks off on December 1

The toys came in throughout the afternoon 

THE Benevolent Brotherhood Society (BBS) is helping the Ghirra family, the Co-operators Insurance branches and Vancity branches organize a toy drive in memory of Victor Ghirra.  This will be the 8th annual Victor Ghirra Toy Drive – in memory of the man with a golden heart.  Newly wrapped toys can be dropped off at Riverside Banquet Hall, Vancity and all the Co-operators Insurance branches from December 1-13.

The toys will be distributed to Children’s Hospital, Richmond Christmas Fund, Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, Keys Solutions (helping families in Whalley), Nightshift Ministries – Care Centre and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Over the last seven years, Victor’s name has been kept alive in the community by:

– Over 18,650 toys collected for Children’s Hospital, Lower Mainland Salvation Army, Richmond Christmas Fund, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, an orphanage in Kenya, Guru Nanak Free Kitchen – Downtown Eastside, Umoja Operation, Richmond families in need, GirlKIND foundation ( helping abandoned girls in India) and Helping Hands

– Victor honoured by the Trinjan Society for his community work

– $500 donation to the Richmond Fire Fighters Global Village project in Victor’s name

– “Victor Ghirra Scholarship Community Award” created by the Ghirra family at McNair Secondary School awarding $500 to a deserving graduating student since 2008

Victor was involved in many charitable initiatives, but one charity that Victor was really touched by was the BC Children’s Hospital.  A heart warming story that depicts Victor’s character was when every Christmas he would buy thousands of dollars of toys 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 out 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.

“Sitting amongst the hundreds of mourners at Victor’s funeral in October there was one thing that was clear:  his giving spirit must live on.  Speech after speech, in one of the most emotional funerals anyone has been to, all resonated the same feelings; it was not fair that Victor left this world at the tender age of 37,” says Harvey Kooner, Co-founder of BBS.

This year everyone in the community is invited to enjoy some Christmas festivities at two toy count events in Surrey and Richmond.  Bring a new, unwrapped toy and enjoy kids’ activities and food and even get a picture taken with Santa from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on:

* Sunday, December 7 at India Banquet Hall (13030 76 Avenue, Surrey)

* Saturday, December 13 at Riverside Palace Banquet Hall (14431 Knox Way, Richmond)

Victor’s brother Bobby Ghirra believes, “My younger brother Victor … you cannot imagine looking at Victor, without looking at that smile, the smile that could make a slow morning brighter or stressful day peaceful because it renewed my sense of hope. The meaning of the smile will never lose its power; it will forever warm my heart in the coldest of times.”

Everyone is encouraged to bring new and unwrapped gifts to the following locations:

* Riverside Hall, 14500 River Road, Richmond, www.riversidepalace.com: Bobby Ghirra, 604.244.7755, bobby@riversidepalace.com

* All Co-operators Insurance branches in the Lower Mainland

* Vancity (36th & Victoria branch): Corrina Pitacco, 604-877-7023, corrina.pitacco@vancity.com