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Ontario Sikhs donate $200,000, the first instalment of a target of $500,000.

Jan 13, 2004

The Ontario Sikh Gurdwara Council and other Punjabi and Sikh groups in the GTA who have formed the Guru Nanak Relief Fund yesterday gave the agency $200,000, the first instalment of a target of $500,000.

Kroum and Eva Pindoff donated $5 million to the Canadian Red Cross yesterday.

His eyes growing redder with every word, 89-year-old Kroum Pindoff finally couldn’t hold back the tears as he stood beside his wife of 55 years and explained what prompted them to give what may be the largest private donation to date for tsunami relief.

Pindoff and his wife Eva, 79, co-founders of the 90-store Music World retail empire, announced a $5 million donation to the Canadian Red Cross yesterday.

The gift is the largest private donation to a disaster appeal ever received by the Canadian Red Cross, and the Pindoffs said they wanted to make sure the donation would qualify for the federal government’s matching program, which expires today.

Defence Minister Bill Graham, who attended the news conference announcing the gift, said the government would add $5 million to its relief efforts in southern Asia to match it. Ottawa announced yesterday that its aid contribution would reach $400 million over five years.

Graham noted that the two philanthropists came through the war in Europe, made their money in this country, "and are giving it back to the world in a way that is an inspiration for all of us." A Red Cross official called the Pindoffs "angels of mercy."

Gord Moore, general manager of the Red Cross in Ontario, said Pindoff has been "very emotional" about the images he has seen on television.

The Pindoffs’ stores generate $200 million in sales annually. Pindoff said he and his wife are "getting older" and "we can’t take (the money) with us." After seeing images of suffering children, he said, "I can’t sleep at night. I don’t have peace of mind when I go to bed."

"There is so much suffering," he said, adding that people in this country have so much. "I believe in good. I came to Canada with very little."

Pindoff, born in Macedonia during World War I, recalled how the couple left Germany in 1955 to start a new life in Canada. Eva said she hopes others will do what they can to help.

The Canadian Red Cross has now raised $73 million, said John Mulvihill, deputy secretary general. And more big donations are coming in.

Canadians for Tsunami Relief collected more than $620,000 from donation booths at malls and a weekend TV appeal that ran for 28 hours, with a multilingual phone force of 1,200.

Rogers Media Network started the weekend collections with $150,000, and Ellen’s Health Food Ltd. pitched in $250,000.

The Ontario March of Dimes is donating more than 200 pairs of crutches, canes and walkers to those injured in the disaster. Toronto’s Mark McAnthony Gibson Foundation will distribute them in Sri Lanka; CS World cargo is handling the shipping and Therapy Supplies and Rental Ltd. is helping in Ontario.

Save the Children Canada and FLOW 93.5 radio raised $99,375 with a Thursday fundraiser at the TD Centre.

Torstar News Service

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