When people began arriving at the Hedley Fire Hall Saturday morning for the spring bottle drive, they were amazed at the imposing mound of black garbage bags piled in front of the hall. The bags were full of bottles and cans, waiting for volunteers to sort them.
Sponsored and organized by the Hedley Grace church, the event is enthusiastically supported by many in the community. People save their empties for both the spring and fall drives. They seemingly like the fact that the funds will be used to send children and youth from the community to summer camp.
Fortunately, it was a bright, pleasant day and volunteers could work outside or at a long table inside the Fire Hall. The constant scurrying to the mound and back to a table made counting volunteers challenging, but in the end, organizers said there had been 10 children and youths and 15 adults.
One man said he, his wife and two children have come for more than 11 years. Both youths will again attend camp this summer. Several other parents and their children also participated fully.
Although the volunteers worked with quiet resolve, there was also some banter and at times laughter. It was an opportunity for people to become not just neighbours, but also friends.
In past years, the church has sent 8 to 10 children to Camp Tulahead. The bottle drive pays for a portion of their camp fees. In cases where parents are unable to make up the difference, the church pays the additional amount.
When it was all over, Pastor Graham Gore’s assessment of the event was upbeat. “We had more cans and bottles donated than usual,” he said, “and the turnout of the community to help sort them was better than most years. People agree with the purpose and some really chipped in and worked with us to get it done. We are deeply grateful for all the support.”