Langley realtors Jamie Ruscheinski and his twin brother Chris loaded up their vehicles with Christmas trees, a toy train set, even a giant stuffed polar bear and headed east – all in an effort to bring Christmas to a number of sick kids at Canuck Place in Abbotsford.
“The kids and their families all arrived to twinkling trees, Santa’s large wooden chair, and a sleigh stacked with wrapped presents,” Jamie said of their efforts to decorate the hospice’s great room for a recent Christmas tree lighting event.
These local philanthropic siblings organize the annual Gone Country cancer fundraising concert in Cloverdale each summer. This year’s event raised $344,000, which was specifically earmarked to build a music room and recording studio at the children’s hospice.
Invited to the Christmas treelighting offered the pair their first glimpse at the completed room.
But just attending the holiday lighting celebration wasn’t sufficient for these two. They had to turn it into more of a party.
So, in late November they initiated a pair of new Christmas fundraisers – including Rad Santa family and pet photo session and a long-table Christmas Ga la lalala lalalalala – that raised about $50,000. Again, the money was earmarked for Canuck Place in Abbotsford – this time to ensure all the kids there had a joyous and meaningful Christmas.
During the recent fundraising events – both held at Potters Nursery – the Ruscheinski boys had guests purchase more than 50 gifts valued at about $3,500 – everything from GoPros to iPads – for the kids.
“Everything went great,” Jamie said of the Abbotsford festivities. “…it’s something we and our volunteers will never forget.”
Seeing the joy in the kids’ faces, the sparkles in their eyes, Jamie said, was incredibly moving.
“One of my favourite part of the evening was watching the two professional actors that we had dressed as elves interact with the children and introduce the man of the hour, Santa Claus. The two elves were hilarious, one playing the lead elf while the other played the quiet clumsy one who couldn’t get anything right. The laughter helped to lighten the mood of the room and get everyone in the Christmas spirit,” he added.
After Santa delivered all the gifts to the kids, the festivities moved on to the unveiling of the new music therapy room and recording studio.
“Canuck Place went well beyond our expectations,” Jamie told the Langley Advance.
“The room was fully stocked with guitars, keyboards, an electronic drum set, microphones, and all the recording equipment you can imagine. They also had a completely portable recording studio that they could wheel up to the any room in the hospice – in case the child was having mobility issues or was confined to a bed. The staff and volunteers thought of everything, and we are so grateful for all that they do,” he concluded, calling it an “honour” to be part of the festivities.