NORTHFIELD — While Santa Claus may reside at the North Pole, the spirit of giving he inspires lives in people such as Victoria and Frank Rich of Northfield.
For the past 18 years the Riches have been holding a homemade dinner at their house to raise money for charity.
Their Dec. 2 dinner made $9,500, and according to their daughter Tori Rich, a teacher at Mainland Regional High School, over the years her parents have raised $102,000, will all of it going to Northfield families.
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She said the fundraiser began as a cocktail party and Italian dinner. Her parents invited couples to attend, calling it the 300 club and asking each couple to make a $300 donation, with the money going to local families in need.
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“My mom has appetizers, makes sausage and peppers, pasta and meatballs, and she makes these Italian cookies that people die for,” Tori Rich said.
“My brother and sister and I help, but my mom is the real cook, and my dad helps with the bar. They really love to have people to their home and love to be able to help others.”
Rich said her mother sits down with Northfield Community School social worker Karen Zaretsky and lets her know how many families they may be able to help, and Zaretsky gauges the need among school families.
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The Riches buy Walmart gift cards for the families chosen to benefit because they can buy food, clothing and toys all in one place, and Zaretsky distributes the cards to the families.
Zaretsky said the Riches have helped countless families who have struggled financially during the holidays.
“Victoria and Frank Rich’s generosity and dedication to our families in need is exemplary," she said. "If it weren’t for Frank and Victoria’s generosity, many Northfield families would not be able to afford to buy gifts and food for their children.”
Northfield School District Superintendent Pete Bretones was equally moved by their efforts.
“It’s really incredible what this family does. I only met them last year, but to be honest there are some people in this world that you don’t need to know well to know how special they are,” he said.
“We are truly fortunate to have them as part of our community. The most amazing part is that they have been doing this for 18 years, and nobody would know if it was up to them. I am humbled by their altruism.”
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While the Riches would rather stay under the radar, their daughter said she was proud of what her parents have been doing for the past 18 years and was compelled to share it.
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