A New Year’s wish for The Lord’s Food Bank in Rocky Mountain House is for a new bus, after the old one was stolen and damaged beyond repair before Christmas.
Executive director Dan Gonzales is hoping the public will donate towards the cost of a replacement vehicle. Since Gonzales’s 1993 short bus was found trashed on Dec. 18 on the O’Chiese Reserve, the food bank has had to use a pickup truck to transport food donations from Red Deer Food Bank, which acts as a hub for Central Alberta.
“We need to pick up about 10,000 pounds a week, and we shouldn’t be pulling that with a three-quarter ton pickup,” said Gonzales. As a result, food bank workers have had to make more than one weekly trip to Red Deer for food, wasting time and gas.
Gonzales believes he could get another used mini bus for about $7,000. His Christian-based non-profit group is already almost a third of the way towards that fundraising goal after a business made a sizable donation towards the bus fund.
He’s philosophical about what happened after a food bank worker mistakenly left the keys in the old bus’s ignition on Dec. 17. “It’s just one of those things. It was just a bunch of kids, who were partially drunk and not really thinking.”
Four youths were charged by police, and a fifth youth is being sought, said Gonzales.
His bus was found with a burned-out engine and transmission and with broken windows after thieves jumped it over a ditch after trying to evade police. Gonzales said it would have cost more to fix the damaged bus than purchasing another used vehicle.
The Lord’s Food Bank serves about 1,400 people a month in a wide area that includes the First Nations reserves west of Rocky.
Gonzales said his non-profit makes up 350 to 400 hampers monthly. “We need to ship about 600,000 pounds of food a year, or about 10,000 pounds a week.”
Anyone wanting to donate can send a cheque to The Lord’s Food Bank, c/o bus fund, Box 1242, Rocky Mountain House, AB, T4T 1A9.