Don Christopher’s Philanthropy Honored County-Wide

Garlic King and Philanthropist Don Christopher

The Gilroy Foundation has many reasons to be proud, but watching Don Christopher take the stage of the Mission City Ballroom at the Santa Clara Convention Center last Friday was a special moment in the Foundation’s 35-year history.

Christopher was awarded the Glenn George Heart of Philanthropy Award on National Philanthropy Day by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Silicon Valley Philanthropy Day is AFP SVC’s premier event held each year as a celebration of excellence in local philanthropy, attended by 700 fundraisers, community leaders, and philanthropists.

Surrounded by 48 family members, Gilroy dignitaries, friends, Foundation Board members and Ambassadors, Christopher took the stage to receive his award flanked by Gilroy Foundation Executive Director Donna Pray and Glenn George’s son, Bert.

“Working with Don and his family over the past several years has been an honor,” said Pray. “Don loves to see his donations through the Gilroy Foundation make an impact on the community, and that has certainly proven true.  Don deserves this award because of his history of giving of time, expertise and dollars to Gilroy and our residents.”

At this ceremony, his philanthropic activities noted include the Don Christopher Fund for Christopher High School, valued today at over $1.7 million with 5 percent distributed annually for CHS programs. He and his wife, Karen, also have an endowed fund to benefit the Gilroy Compassion Center’s programs.  In 2011, he donated $150,000 to the Gilroy Foundation to make structural improvements on the Gilroy Center for the Arts. In 2013, he donated $150,000 to a fund “wish list” for the needs of Christopher High School and another for Gilroy High School. Also that year, the Christophers launched a scholarship program that has awarded over $350,000 to students pursuing college degrees. Most recently, Don donated $3.8 million for the construction of the state-of-the-art Don Christopher Sports Complex at Christopher High School.

Through the years, Christopher has served on many local nonprofit boards including the Gilroy Rotary Club, Gilroy Elks Lodge, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Advisory Board, the Santa Clara County Planning Commission and he was a founding member of the Gilroy Garlic Festival and continues to serve on its Advisory Committee.

Christopher’s Glenn George Award was one of 8 awards in the “Outstanding Category,” ranging from individuals to corporations and organizations in Silicon Valley. Also honored by AFP SVC were 29 distinguished volunteer fundraisers.

The Gilroy Foundation was founded in 1980 to help meet the needs of the community in the specific areas of Health, Education, Recreation, Culture, Technology, and Civic Services. The Foundation provides a way for individuals, families and corporations who share a commitment to the future prosperity and well-being of the community by building an endowment that will last in perpetuity. The foundation currently has assets of over $12 million.