Collect your pennies from your closets and couches and help youth at risk at the same time.
The Salvation Army has teamed up with “Skid Row CEO” Joe Roberts in his Push for Change campaign to raise funds for youth. The money goes to prevention and support programs for young people who are at risk and who are homeless.
Roberts is pushing a modified shopping cart 1,000 kilometres from Calgary to Vancouver throughout July and August, with the aim of raising awareness about the challenges some teens and young adults face.
He is also raising funds for programs, which is where the pennies come in. He is expected to arrive in Abbotsford on Monday.
“Bring your containers and jars of pennies,” said Deb Lowell, the communications officer for the Salvation Army in Abbotsford.
The Army has its own shopping cart at the Cascade Community Church ready to receive donations from community members.
“Even children can get involved with this, and know they can change the life of another child at risk,” she said.
Roberts himself knows what lonely struggle and survival on the streets means – he was a street kid himself, homeless and addicted, living under a bridge in Vancouver.
With the help of some caring people, Roberts straightened himself out, got an education and became a successful and sought-after business marketing expert.
Today, he is also an inspirational speaker, known as the “Skid Row CEO.”
Even as he attains successes for himself, he has not forgotten the heartbreak of being a kid on the street, said Lowell.
“He and I had lunch together a couple of years ago,” she recalled.
“He wanted to do something for youth at risk, and this is what he came up with.”
One hundred per cent of the funds raised in the Push for Change campaign will go to either existing programs for youth at risk or to develop new ones, in the two key areas of prevention and recovery.
The first helps young people get through school, build self-esteem and get them set for adult life. The recovery programs include shelter, addictions help, counselling and practical skills training.
Roberts’ trek from Calgary to Vancouver is a pilot run for a much longer, 8,000-km voyage he plans to take across the country in 2013, with the support of training coach and sports psychologist Sean Richardson.
Locally the Salvation Army also works to help children and young people at risk, said Lowell.
The Army brings nutritional snacks to 13 Abbotsford elementary schools, where teachers hand out at their discretion to needy kids.
The Army has its Camp Sunrise, and it also partners with Athletes in Action to offer affordable sports programs for youngsters, who don’t have to be church members, she said.
On his Push for Change trek, Roberts will stop at communities along the way. He is expected to arrive in Abbotsford at about 3 p.m. on Aug. 20, said Lowell. All are invited to enjoy a barbecue and music by Joyful Noise, the church’s ‘house band’ who are recovering addicts themselves.
Some local sponsors include Cloverdale Paint, Telus, Elks Club, Fraserway RV and Thrifty Foods.
Cascade Community Church is at 35190 Delair Rd., Abbotsford. See more at www.pushforchange.com.