When Toronto’s Lawrence Merkur passed away in 2008 at the age of 54, the somewhat reclusive and extremely compassionate man left an unknown fortune to Toronto’s Salvation Army.
The day after his death, it was discovered that Merkur, an active and extremely successful trader in the silver market since 1990, had accumulated thousands of ounces of silver worth more than $6 million. Lawrence lived a very frugal lifestyle. You would never know he had a nickel, let alone millions in silver. But that’s how he chose to live.
In his will, Lawrence left his silver to The Salvation Army “to use the income therefrom for programs administered by The Salvation Army to improve the lives of impoverished and needy persons in Canada.”
The largest single donation made to the Salvation Army in Canada, Lawrence wanted the gift to honour the memory of his late sister Carol Merilly, and a cousin Sydney Eve Atin, who died at very young ages. Typical of Lawrence’s quiet lifestyle, he didn’t want to have his name attached to the gift.
Beyond helping those in need, Lawrence’s gift has also forged relationships between interfaith organizations. In 2011 alone, more than 100,000 pounds of kosher food was delivered through The Salvation Army to low-income Jewish families.
Each year The Salvation Army provides direct, compassionate, hands-on service to more than 1.7 million vulnerable people in Canada. As an international Christian church that welcomes everyone, The Salvation Army’s faith motivates its mission to serve and treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Today Lawrence’s generous gift allows The Salvation Army to continue to make significant strides toward its goal of putting a sense of dignity within reach for the three million Canadians living in poverty.