A Dickensian Christmas fundraiser has reached the quarter century mark here in Langley, and even the pandemic isn’t putting a stop to Marley and Cratchit collecting for kids in need this year.
Wayne Kuyer and Kyle Murray of Langley City accounting firm Kuyer & Associates put on a full Victorian regalia from top hats to polished shoes every holiday season to collect for the Langley Christmas Bureau and the Empty Stocking Fund.
This year will be the first in 25 years that Kuyer won’t be visiting a dozen or more businesses – up to 50 in some years – to playfully remind them that they’re on his list and have to pay up.
“Keeping it safe,” is how Kuyer described this year’s rounds. Kuyer portrays Jacob Marley, the partner of miser Ebeneezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ classic novella A Christmas Carol.
“We don’t want to be running around to everybody’s business,” said Kyle Murray, who plays put-upon clerk Bob Cratchit.
The fundraiser began 25 years ago with Kuyer and his business partner Stephen de Verteuil, who took on the role of Scrooge himself.
Both Kuyer and de Verteuil had an appreciation for the Victorian classic and the era itself, and dressing up as the notorious owners of a 19th century “counting house” fit with their profession as accountants.
The fundraiser was successful and fun, and became an annual tradition, with local businesses looking forward to their annual visit.
De Verteuil passed away in 2002 at the age of 47, and his portrayal of Scrooge was retired, but Kuyer kept going solo as Marley, until recruiting Murray as Cratchit starting in 2017.
Kuyer said that this year, despite the economic harm the COVID-19 pandemic has done to a lot of local businesses, the response has been positive.
Those donors who are less impacted are eager to contribute, because the need is still there, and in many cases greater than ever.
This is the 25th anniversary of the fundraiser.
“Twenty-five years, not sure I contemplated that,” Kuyer said of how the project started.
This year, he’ll miss the joking around and the camraderie that comes when the turn up at local businesses.
At a lot of firms, people come out of offices and off shop floors to see the Victorian duo, say hi, and exchange some banter.
Last year, Marley and Cratchit brought in $22,000 from Langley-area businesses for local charities. In total over the last 24 years, the annual event has raised about $315,000.
Wayne Kuyer, a.k.a. Jacob Marley, and Kyle Murray, going by Bob Cratchit, will be heading out to local businesses from Dec. 10 to 17 this year, collecting for charities that serve those who need a little extra help during the Christmas season.
Both are accountants from a modern day “counting house,” the accountants firm of Kuyer & Associates.
The characters from Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol expect to raise around $20,000 this year for the Langley Christmas Bureau and the Province Empty Stocking Fund.
Donating means a visit from Marley and Cratchit, who play up miser Marley’s demands for “payment” as meek Cratchit follows along.
There are about 50 donors already lined up this year, including many that have contributed for much of the 23 years the fundraiser has been in operation.
Of course, Kuyer doesn’t mind a new business asking to join.
“We certainly don’t mind if someone wants to volunteer to be harassed,” he joked. “We’d love to drop by!”
Kuyer began the fundraiser in 1996 with his late business partner Stephen de Verteuil, who portrayed Ebeneezer Scrooge.
He’d always loved A Christmas Carol, and de Verteuil had an appreciation for the Victorian era. Scrooge and Marley’s counting house also seemed to fit with their work as accountants.