Vancouver businessman and philanthropist David McCann has donated about 1,000 pieces of art that will be auctioned off later this month at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School in Vancouver, with part proceeds going to Adopt A School.
David McCann insists he doesn’t need an awful lot to live on.
“I’m 73-years-old, I’ve got a good job in Granville Island, a nice 900-square-foot apartment. How much does anyone need?”
Some people need a lot.
McCann is obviously different because he is now in the process of giving away the equivalent of half his salary to the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School campaign — a $30,000 donation — made from his credit card.
He did the same last year.
When advised that perhaps he should think it through and that such generosity might well be detrimental, his co-worker in the small office they occupy in the Creekhouse quietly breaks in.
“He won’t listen. He does this all the time. It’s just the way he is.”
“I’m blessed,” says McCann. “Anyway, I’ve got some stuff I can sell to replace that money.”
The some stuff turns out to be exquisite pieces of early Inuit carvings he collected during his time in the Arctic — which a dealer from Ontario is flying in to assess — and three original Ted Harrison paintings that the artist himself gave him.
“Selling them should take care of it.”
And that’s the end of that.
It’s entirely due to McCann that a thousand pieces of mounted photographic art and hundreds of unframed photographic prints will be on sale Saturday and Sunday in the gym at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary school on 24th Ave. near Main Street.
The proceeds from the sale which will run each day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be split between Adopt-A-School and the school’s arts program.
The Adopt-A-School campaign provides schools across the province with money to feed, clothe and care for students suffering from the results of poverty, many coming to school hungry.
McCann was given the art — stunning photographic prints laminated on vinyl and mounted on boards — by an associate in the art business who asked McCann if he would sell them for a worthy cause.
“I had met Michael (Cavaletto), the art teacher at Tupper, and I offered him the prints to sell to raise money for his arts program with half of the proceeds to go to the Sun’s Adopt-A-School campaign,” said McCann, general manager of the Creekhouse on Granville Island.
“These pieces will be sold at less than half of retail value and we’re hoping that people who want to support Adopt-A-School and the arts program will come out.”
The prints will be priced from $10 to $125 for the largest pieces.
There will also be unframed prints for $5 to $10, which is 20 per cent of their retail value, he said.
“I’m hoping we can raise about $60,000,” he said. “You won’t find photographic art like this anywhere for these prices.”
It was while supervising the storage of the prints at the school in preparation for this weekend’s sale that McCann overhead some students discussing what was riding on the outcome.
“There were two girls and I could hear them talking about how glad they were to be helping and that the money raised would mean some of their friends would be getting fed.
“It brought tears to me eyes.”
McCann is renowned for acts of spontaneous kindness and there have been stories about him in The Province.
One day while walking on the seawall, he saw an elderly Chinese couple collecting bottles from garbage cans being racially abused by a gang of youths.
“I looked at the lady’s face and it was awful. I was feeling a bit melancholy myself because a friend of mine had just passed away. So I walked on. Then I turned back and gave them 20 bucks.
“They weren’t looking for a handout, but a minute later I turned around again and saw them hugging each other.
“So I went back and emptied my wallet. It made me feel a lot better.”
It was last year, he says, that he became aware of the crisis of children coming to school hungry.
“As a country, we spend how many billions on schools? Every kid should be able to take advantage of their education, but if we put kids into their seats hungry, they will fail.
“It makes no sense to do that and it’s stupid. We might as well not send these kids to school because we are locking the door on their education before we give them an opportunity to walk through it.
“I didn’t know about this until I read The Sun. I’m sure there are other people who don’t know it either, who if they did, would be as outraged as I am.
“When I think about our politicians getting, what, $200 a day in meal allowances? And these kids having no food? It makes me angry.”
Requests from schools to help impoverished students total about $1 million this year and The Vancouver Sun is appealing to readers for donations.
By Gerry Bellett (firstname.lastname@example.org)