Annual auction raised $120,000 for aid in Africa

Organizer shaved beloved beard to help raise $40,000 for the cause

The annual Make a Difference Sale raised $120

The annual Make a Difference Sale raised $120

Clarence Tuin may have lost the beard he loved, but it played a large role in raising $120,000 for food aid in Africa.

Tuin, who is the volunteer representative of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank in B.C. along with his wife Jenny, shaved the beard he’s had for 25 years at the annual Make a Difference Sale at McClary’s Stockyard.

The auction was held March 21 to raise funds for Foodgrains Bank, which assists impoverished people around the globe by improving health care and nutrition, and providing clean water to people in Third World nations. This year’s auction raised about $120,000, the same amount as was raised in years before.

Tuin has organized the event for years, but this one was different. Before the auction, he made a bet with his son Ron that if he could raise $5,000 for Foodgrains Bank, then Tuin would shave off his beard. His son asked to lower the amount to $1,000, thinking that $5,000 would be too difficult to raise, but Tuin wouldn’t budge.

“(Ron) took the challenge and he spread the word… I never thought he would raise $8,000.”

The money raised by the auction is matched four to one by the federal government, meaning that the $8,000 that Ron raised to shave his dad’s beard will bring a total of $40,000 in aid to Africa.

The auction began at 10 a.m. at McClary’s Stockyard on McClary Avenue off Sumas Way. All the items that were auctioned off were donated, including farm tools, pressure washers, toys and potatoes. Like last year, livestock were auctioned, such as cattle and a pig. The use of the stockyard is donated by McClary’s, as well as volunteers’ time for organization and cleanup.

The coffee for the event was donated by Tim Hortons, and the organizers auctioned off an extra stack of “Roll up the Rim” cups, bringing in an additional $180.

Tuin said he thinks people support the Make a Difference Sale because everything is donated, and all the money goes directly to the cause.

“People know that every dollar raised is going… to be used in Africa.”

Tuin said he is pleased with the amount of money raised, although his face has been feeling cold without his beard. But his wife is glad to see his beard gone.

“My wife is still smiling… She is the happiest woman in all of Abbotsford. She hated that thing.”

Tuin said he knew his beard had grown long, but it came in handy for playing Santa Claus at seniors’ homes. He wants to grow it back so he can continue to be Santa, an activity that he loves, but he has decided to wait a little longer before he starts.

“I’ll keep my wife happy for a while.”

Foodgrains Bank focuses on providing food assistance to communities internationally. To date, the organization has provided 1.1 million tonnes of food to people in need.