The Alastair Sim version, no question.
That’s the answer Wayne Kuyer gives when asked about his favourite version of A Christmas Carol.
Since 1996, Kuyer and his colleagues at Kuyer and Associates have been dressing up as characters from the classic Charles Dickens 1843 novella and visiting businesses in Langley. In its 27 years of Christmas-time fundraising, the accounting firm has raised $373,863 for The Province Empty Stocking Fund and the Langley Christmas Bureau.
“We send out a notice that Bob Cratchit and Jacob Marley are going to be coming into town,” Kuyer said. “We select a week and we visit people over that timeframe. They’re aware that we’re continuing a tradition. In most instances, we’re targeting our regular donors. A lot of people just send in cheques to keep it simple.”
Kuyer came up with the idea with his business partner Stephen de Verteuil. They focused on Scrooge and Marley because the characters “would be an easy fit,” Kuyer said.
However, de Verteuil passed away in 2002, at 47.
“He always played Scrooge and I always played Marley,” Kuyer said. “He was a way better-looking Scrooge than I was. When he passed away, I endeavoured to do this on my own. We dedicated the cause to him.”
These days, the Scrooge costume is mothballed. Kuyer is still Marley, but now another member of the firm, Kyle Murray, dresses as Bob Cratchit on their annual pilgrimages.
“I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to step into the Scrooge role, and I didn’t want Kyle to be my overlord,” Kuyer jokes.
Murray needed little convincing, although dressing up as a Victorian gentleman and canvassing neighbourhood businesses is not in the usual accounting firm job description.
“Honestly, by looking at the history of the tradition, you get sold immediately,” he said. “And I’m outgoing, so it’s a fun thing to do rather than a chore.”
Since this is an opportunity to socialize with some people that they usually only see once a year, the 2022 outing has special resonance.
“We haven’t seen them in more than a year, in some instances,” Murray said. “We were very aware of COVID and being mindful that not everybody wants people coming and going. COVID has tempered our approach to a degree. This year, we’ll be out and about a little more than in the last two years.”
Despite being house- and office-bound the last couple of years, Kuyer and Associates still raised some of its largest hauls in the effort’s history. In 2020, they brought in just under $28,000, and last year saw over $33,000 in donations.
“Our target this year is $25,000,” Kuyer said. “Last year, we had two very generous contributors. I’ll hit them up again, but we’re not expecting quite the same windfall.”
The donations form part of the amount collected each year for the Empty Stocking Fund. Now in its 104th year, The Province’s annual Christmas campaign raises money for community and charitable agencies that provide food, toys and other items for local families and people in need at Christmas.
“Really, it’s just to get our faces back in front of people,” Murray said of their annual donor drive. This year, it takes place Dec. 12-16.
“People are usually pretty happy to see us. Especially if they’re regular donors. Walking into new businesses, we might get weird looks, but by the end of it everyone’s laughing and having a good time.”
“When you go into some of these offices we’re dealing with people who have experienced this for the last 10 or 15 years,” Kuyer said. “It’s a tradition. For example, we’ll walk into a dentist’s office when he’s in the middle of a procedure. But quite often, they’ll want to step outside to acknowledge we’re there and share a few thoughts.” After the filling, we hope.