Rufus the Chicken

Businesses quick to pitch in

Ideas as diverse as the companies

The Province
December 8, 2004
Jonathan Woodward

B.C. businesses are finding ways to mix capitalism and charity while raising money for needy families this Christmas.

Saje, a natural health store with seven franchises in the Lower Mainland, ordered 3,000 stockings with a plush snowman for their stores to sell as a Christmas gimmick.

"But we're not in the business of selling stockings," said Venetia Nielsen, a Kitsilano franchise owner. "So we decided to accept a minimum $10 donation for them, with the proceeds going to the Empty Stocking Fund.

"We all got really excited -- it was a perfect fit."

More than $30,000 could be raised, and "it was easy," said Nielsen.

Liquidation World, Coast Spas and Billiards, and the Riley Restaurant and Bar are among businesses donating a portion of their proceeds to charity.

The non-profit Canadian Information Processing Society has scheduled a dinner fundraiser for Dec 9. Burnaby dealership Cars from Mars plans to auction cars for charity.

And businesses including 7-Eleven and Below the Belt have collection boxes for customers.

Vancouver-area magician Mike Norden ran a contest to find Rufus, his sidekick rubber chicken.

The bird was hidden, and whoever followed Norden's cryptic clues to find the bird won $500. That money was matched in a $500 gift to the Empty Stocking Fund.

The Province's Empty Stocking Fund campaign lasts until Dec. 31. Last year, more than $350,000 in donations were collected and distributed to community groups via its partner in the United Way of the Lower Mainland.