A Red Deer woman who knows the tough time that youth have on the streets is doing what she can to help them out.
Julie Takhar lived on the streets in downtown Red Deer from the time she was 16 to after her 18th birthday. She remembers sleeping on a heat vent at the library just to stay warm.
Now the 44-year-old is fundraising for items and gift certificates to take down to the Parkland Youth Homes Street Ties drop-in centre.
One need she mentioned as important are toiletries.
“It (money) goes to things the kids need that I would be able to drop off at the youth centre for them,” said Takhar. “Like toiletries, backpacks, bus tickets or gift cards.”
Parkland Youth Homes CEO Robecca Chahine said they have not asked her to do this and have no direct relation with her fundraising other than receiving the items Takhar donates.
Chahine said they have received one delivery of items from her.
Takhar is doing this by herself and has found it hard so far. Everything she has done so far comes out of her pocket.
She has invested in a computer, printer and website. She has printed out her own flyers and has been posting them where she can.
On her website, www.linksforyouthnonprofit.com, which is still in the early development stages, is her phone number and ways to contact her.
Takhar told the Street Ties drop-in centre what she was doing.
“I’ve hung out with older people who go ‘Oh yeah, we’ll take care of you,’ ” said Takhar. “No, they just use you and want you to go do stuff.
“I remember what it feels like, everybody looks at you like you’re a piece of garbage and it’s not fun being dirty and hungry.”
Prior to going on the street, Takhar was in group homes, but those didn’t work for her.
“There has to be more. If given the chance these kids can have really good futures,” said Takhar.