Sarah Anderson decided she had to take action when she heard that her hometown was considering banning shopping carts. Knowing how large the homeless population in Vernon is, she came up with a solution: wagons.
So, she started a gofundme page, unsure if it would catch any attention or raise any money.
“I basically just started the gofundme page off of a whim and thought, well let’s just see what happens,” she said. “I had never set up a page before had never done my own sort of fundraising but we ended up getting about $2,000.”
Not wanting to go in blind, she put a post in the Vernon community forum, looking for people with a connection with the homeless community. She was able to connect with two volunteers from H.O.P.E.: Charmaine Comeau and Suzanne North. Helping Out People Exploited outreach is a nighttime outreach program, dedicated to serving women, living on the streets who are homeless, addicted or exploited.
Anderson, who is now living in Calgary, said she often visits Vernon and follows local news. So, the first week in August, she planned a visit to Vernon. She purchased wagons and were quickly able to find four individuals who benefited from receiving a wagon.
“The first weekend in August we handed out four and then I left two other wagons with the ladies from H.O.P.E. because they go out every second Saturday. They were then able to hand out two more,” Anderson said. “Then we came out for the September long weekend and made a plan with the two ladies to hand out the rest of them. In total, we were able to handout 18 wagons.”
Coincidentally, after the labour day weekend when the team finished handing out the final wagons, the Vernon Council voted down shopping cart ban, enabling Vernon’s street-entrenched population to keep their shopping carts.
“Administration does not support banning of shopping carts based on the legal challenges and potential infringement on person’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” wrote city administration in a report to council. “Additionally, persons requiring storage and transportation of their belongings will seek other means such as wagons, strollers, carts or roller bags.”
Anderson’s initiative was ahead of this curve, but she said she’s just happy that she was successful in her fundraising efforts and able to ensure that 18 people who would benefit from a cart and likely couldn’t afford one, now have wagons to keep their belongings.
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