Empty Stocking Fund: Langley small businesses brace for a visit from Jacob Marley and Bob Cratchit

Last year, as part of his firm’s fundraising drive, Wayne Kuyer and his associates raised just over $30,000 for The Province Empty Stocking Fund and the Langley Christmas Bureau.

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Since 1996, Wayne Kuyer has dressed up as Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol.

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Last year, as part of his firm’s fundraising drive, he and his associates raised just over $30,000 for The Province Empty Stocking Fund and the Langley Christmas Bureau.

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“We usually keep our goal around $25,000,” said Kuyer, who is the owner of the Langley accounting firm Kuyer & Associates. “We have two donors who are very generous, but we try not to rely on them to maintain that generosity. So if they step up it gives us another $5,000. With our regular repeats, without the special bumps, $25,000 is quite an achievable number for us.”

Kuyer first came up with the idea of dressing up as characters from the Charles Dickens’ classic story with his business partner at the time, Stephen de Verteuil. Kuyer dressed as Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s former business partner, and de Verteuil as Scrooge. In period costume they solicited donations from local businesses. However, de Verteuil died in 2002, at age 47.

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Today, accountant Kyle Murray dons the garb of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s underpaid, abused clerk, as he and Kuyer visit nearly 100 businesses over a week.

“We like to squeeze people that have given in the past because they’re a lot easier to squeeze than new guys,” Kuyer said. “We do rely largely on repeat donors. And sometimes you have businesses that close or are sold. So we do also try to introduce ourselves to new companies and organizations that we can get on-board.”

The process begins with a mail-out.

“Tradition speaks to how we do things. And in the past, we’ve always had that little newsletter or announcement that we send out early December.”

In total, they’ve raised about $404,000. Much of that money has gone to the Empty Stocking Fund, which distributes donations from readers to 26 B.C. community groups that provide food hampers and gifts to children, needy families and singles.

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For 105 years, The Province Empty Stocking Fund has been dedicated to making the holidays brighter for B.C. residents who are less fortunate. For more information on how you can donate this holiday season, see the information below the article.

“Most of those organizations are expecting us because they’ve received the newsletter saying that we’re coming to pick up the cheque and have a little bit of fun doing it in-character,” said Murray.

Many of their donors write the cheques as soon as they see the newsletter.

“We try to drop by just to you say, ‘Hi,’ ” Kuyer said. “We’re usually in-costume at that point. This thing has been built on a role-playing and that role-playing is reinforced by continuing to visit those that are participating.”

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Most of the businesses they visit are small.

“With some of the bigger or chain retailers you’re dealing with a bureaucracy, so we go to the smaller operators,” he said. “Dentists are usually pretty good, there are lawyers and accountants that we continually harass and certain local merchants. They recognize that it’s a community effort.”

They set aside a week in mid-December for their visits.

“It’s a little bit of a push sometimes to find that time because you’ve got things on your desk that need doing and people who are calling,” Kuyer said. “You really have to concentrate on blocking out time to make the rounds. But being in front of the givers and donors is an important part of what we do. It maintains a connection.”

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“When we plan our days out, it’s very much a strategy to try to fit everyone in,” Murray said.

“The thing that keeps us going is that it’s a fun thing to be involved in,” Kuyer said. “People don’t look at you and say, ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ They embrace the whole concept. That’s why we originally started doing it. How do you get into the door to do a fundraiser without people saying, ‘Well, no soliciting. See you later?’ ”

The 2023 Empty Stocking Fund campaign is on until Dec. 31 and donations can be made to:

Online at: https://theprovince.com/esf

By mail to: The Province Empty Stocking Fund

968 East Cordova St.,

Vancouver, B.C., V6A 1M6

By calling: 604-253-6911

2023 direct donation link: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/DonationPage.aspx?eventid=385682

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