gmhTODAY Winter 2023 - Page 26

Don ’ s heart for philanthropy and service to others goes far beyond the items mentioned . However , the items mentioned are a good indication of the life he led , and the kind of life we should all aspire to lead .
The Legacy Continues
In 2019 the Christopher Family Foundation ( CFF ) was established as the non-profit arm of Christopher Ranch , formed to continue the philanthropic efforts of the company and the Christopher Family . The CFF works with local organizations to provide support and results for programs serving youth , the under-privileged , and education . The Christopher family believes that education is the panacea for so many of our community ’ s challenges , so the CFF works with schools and institutions to reach youth of all ages , to help set them up for success .
Above : Don Christopher stands in a field of garlic . Next : Three generations of Garlic : ( L to R ) Ken , Don , Bill , Jason . Below right : Don and Karen enjoy a copy of J Chris and Larry Mickartz new book celebrating all things Gilroy Garlic Festival , 2022 .

The Christophers donated an additional $ 75,000 donation in October 2008 , earmarked as seed money to launch many of the student activities and programs at the new four-year high school including yearbook , transportation for athletics , and the student store .

Don and Karen Christopher and Christopher Ranch provide annual grants and scholarships each year through the Gilroy Foundation . To date , Christopher Ranch has distributed over $ 700,000 in community grants , while Don and Karen Christopher have personally distributed over $ 200,000 in community grants . Together they have awarded over $ 800,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors to date .
Awards and Philanthropy
“ My family firmly believes that a well-rounded education including not only academics , but also sports , can and will give our hometown ’ s youth the ability to excel . These past 18 months [ during COVID and the economic shutdown ] have undeniably been hard on our community ’ s students , and if the Christopher Family Foundation can do something to make a positive impact , we ’ re proud to do so .” Grandson Ken shared with gmhTODAY in 2021 .
“ The impact of Don Christopher ’ s kindness on the Gilroy Unified School District community will stand the test of time ,” wrote Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent , Dr . Deborah A . Flores , Ph . D . on the GUSD website .
Highlighting his contributions to Gilroy High School , Christopher High School , and middle schools , she stated , “ Don ’ s reach has positively impacted the lives of our students , staff and families in great and small ways . His philanthropic spirit , innovative ideas , and collaborative approach to bettering the Gilroy community will be greatly missed . His influence made Gilroy better , and for that , we are forever grateful .”
Family Man
What people remember most about Don , Ken shared , was his grandfather ’ s deep love for family . He recalled earlier days , when Don would pick up Ken and Kevin from elementary school to go have “ fun and adventure .” He found
Don ’ s impressive concern for his community resulted in numerous awards . In 2015 , he received the prestigious Glenn George “ Heart of Philanthropy ” award . The honor was bestowed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals ( AFP ) of Silicon Valley Board . The same year , he was inducted into the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame for his life-long contributions to the betterment of the community and its residents .
In 2019 , Don was named “ Produce Marketer for All Seasons ” by The Packer — a produce industry publication . Editor Tom Karst presented Bill Christopher with the award on behalf of his dad . In his remarks , Karst praised Christopher ’ s great contributions to the industry and his community . “ Our winner ’ s involvement with the community is truly bigger than life ,” Karst said .
26 WINTER 2023 gmhTODAY Magazine gmhtoday . com