Sherryl Johnstone, of Red Deer, has a large number of items she is putting into backpacks and purses to hand out to homeless and the less fortunate. She hopes the items will help them get through a few of the winter months. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate Staff)

One Red Deer woman’s commitment to helping others

Volunteers are celebrated as part of National Volunteer Week

When she was eight and in Brownies, Sherryl Johnstone she went to a West Park “old folks home” to make soap animals for the residents.

Decades later, she’s bringing a second annual car show and shine to Extendicare Michener Hill. Johnstone said her love of community work and volunteering really started back when she was a Brownie.

“They were so pleased with it, it touched me then,” she said. “I kept going back, not with the Brownies, just by myself to visit with these old grannies and grandpas.

The show and shine happened “quite by accident,” Johnstone said. The Shoppers Drug Mart employee drivers her 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to work every day in the summer.

“A lady who works at Extendicare came in and asked if I could get a show together and bring a few cars in,” said Johnstone. “Most of them can’t get out to go to them.”

She brought up the idea of a show and shine at Extendicare at the regular Thursday at Crossroads Church event she attends in the summer.

“They were all for it,” said Johnstone, adding close to 70 cars showed up for the first Extendicare show and shine last summer.

“We had one blind fellow who touched every single car and identified them by touch. It was absolutely thrilling to be able to do this for these people.”

The event returns this year on June 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Extendicare Michener Hill, 12 Michener Blvd., and includes root beer floats. Johnstone hopes more cars will show up and any classic car owner can bring their pride and joy to help out.

But bringing classic cars to people who can’t travel very far isn’t the only way Johnstone gives back to the community.

This year, she has set a goal of assembling 50 backpacks or purses and filling them with personal items to help someone get through at least a few of the winter months. It includes toiletries, a toque, mittens and scarf.

When they are assembled, she plans to hand them out at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

“It’s not my business how they got there, but it is my duty to help,” said Johnstone. “People need our help, it’s not for me to judge why they need our help, it’s very important for me to give. I do what I can.”

She hopes people will donate items to her cause, which they can do at the Clearview Shoppers Drug Mart, 7 Clearview Market Way.

National volunteer week runs until April 29.

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