A Ponoka County youth, Lucas Berg, 15, has again showed his passion for helping those who are less fortunate with a recent donation to the Rock Soup Greenhouse and Food Bank in Wetaskiwin.
Berg, in Grade 10 at St. Augustine School in Ponoka, donated over $1,000 worth of new winter coats, boots, mitts, socks and toiletries to the food bank.
He raised the money for the items by doing odd jobs for family and neighbours, collecting bottles and selling some of his belongings, and using his own money.
Berg’s last project was a donation of backpacks filled with essential items that he donated to the Mustard Seed in Red Deer last winter.
“After donating to the Mustard Seed, I was curious about how many homeless shelters and food banks were in Alberta, which is when I found out about Rock Soup being so close to home,” said Berg.
“Knowing that there are people that are part of my community, and in communities that are close to me who don’t have access to basic human needs like food, water, and shelter really motivated me to try and change that,” he said.
“My biggest goal is to make sure these people never have to go a day without their basic needs.”
Rock Soup has been serving a large population of vulnerable people, and the donation came at a good time.
“Donations like Lucas’s have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of their recipients,” said Brandon Rehaume, assistant executive director of Rock Soup.
“With the temperature decreasing rapidly, a pair of mittens and an extra sweater can make the difference between life and death for an unhoused individual,” he said.
“Fortunately, Lucas’s donation was distributed just before freezing temperatures broke, which undoubtedly brought a lot of comfort and safety to the vulnerable population.”
After around three weeks of managing the encampment at the Rock Soup Food Bank, city council approved the use of a public plot of land for individuals to legally set up tents without the possibility of removal or fines, says Rehaume.
The new location, just southeast of the Wetaskiwin Walmart, is a small plot within a series of empty fields where approximately 25 to 35 people are living in tents.
“Unfortunately, there is still a massive need for donations within the encampment as residents do not have access to facilities to wash, dry or repair soiled or wet items, which means that dry blankets and warm clothing are always in need,” said Rehaume.
“With no other source of heat, firewood is an essential that never lasts long enough.”
Firewood donations can be dropped off at Rock Soup or the Heritage Museum to be delivered to the encampment.
Rehaume says the city is awaiting a grant that would allow the installment of a temporary warming shelter near the location of the encampment, which is expected to be in operation before the snow falls.
“Regardless of how the situation progresses, Rock Soup will continue to support the vulnerable population through collaboration with community partners, and will always accept and distribute essential donations.”
Items the food bank currently has a high need for include fresh food such as fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as allergy-friendly foods like gluten free items and toiletries such as menstrual products, diapers, baby food and toilet paper.
“If anyone wants to drop off a donation, access our services, volunteer or just take a tour, please feel free to reach out on Facebook or give us a call.”