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Victor Ghirra Toy Drive a labour of love

By Don Fennell

Published 2:54 PST, Fri December 3, 2021

In so many ways, Victor Ghirra was larger than life. But nothing illustrated that more than his devotion to others—particularly kids.

“There were 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 B.C. Children’s Hospital and donating them to needy children who weren’t as lucky as his own,” says Harvey Kooner.

This year—for the 15th consecutive—Kooner is organizing the annual Victor Ghirra Toy Drive to pay further homage to his late friend, who passed away suddenly in 2007 leaving behind his wife and four young sons.

When asked at the children’s hospital, “Who are you, and where are these toys from, which organization,” the modest Ghirra, determined not to have the focus on him, would reply: “It doesn’t matter. These toys are for the kids and that’s all you need to know.”

It turned out that Ghirra had been making trips to the hospital for well over a decade. He was purely being himself, never telling anyone what he was up to.

“When I heard (about Ghirra’s efforts) it touched me, and I wanted to find a way to honour the man with a golden heart,” Kooner explains.”For the past 14 years, with help from people like you, 42,650-plus toys have been collected and distributed to dozens of organizations.”

So again this year, Kooner is asking for the public to join in by purchasing a new toy and donating it to the cause. Donations can be dropped off at the Richmond Grand Toy Count event from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Riverside Grand Ballroom parking lot (1231 Burdette St.). You’re also invited to get your picture taken in the Winter Wonderland photo booth at the drive-thru event.

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