Confusion leaves fundraiser in the lurch

21:31, Dec 25 2013
santa hat chch
GENUINE EFFORT: Debbie Klyushkin’s plan to sell Santa hats to raise funds for Christchurch Hospital’s paediatric department was mistakenly labelled a scam, leaving her with hundreds left over. 

A Christmas fundraiser gone drastically wrong has left a Christchurch woman with 600 Santa hats she has no idea how to get rid of.

Debbie Klyushkin purchased 2000 Santa hats this month aiming to sell them to raise money for Christchurch Hospital's paediatric department over Christmas.

She met with members of the paediatric team to discuss the fundraiser in September, but was not directed to go through the hospital's official channels.

A miscommunication within the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) saw her philanthropy labelled as a potential scam.

Klyushkin had hoped to raise money for the hospital to "give back" after her parents were both admitted in August this year.

She decided to sell $5 Santa hats and was forwarded hospital logos to use as identification badges, but the fundraiser was not "officially sanctioned".


A member of the public grew suspicious of the fundraiser when she saw Santa-hat sellers in a busy restaurant on Saturday night. The woman rang the hospital and was told not hospital-endorsed.

The CDHB then notified its 9000 staff members and the police of the possible scam on Monday.

It has since apologised and retracted its earlier statement with staff and police.

This was not the only hiccup Klyushkin faced during her fundraiser - $1400 of fundraising money was stolen from her North New Brighton home.

She planned to give the paediatric department a $1600 cheque on Monday, but was still not sure what to do with the remaining 600 Santa hats.

A CDHB spokesman said Klyushkin's efforts were "to be applauded".

"I am sorry our earlier statement caused any unintended distress, particularly to people who are prepared to go that extra mile to help," he said.

The Press