Joke turns into acquiring a needed van

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January 19, 2017 12:00 AM

LOAD 'ER UP Members of local restoration companies Border City Fire and Flood, Spectrum Restoration DKI, Advanced Cleaning and Restoration, and First General Services, along with Olive Tree director Becky Schille, stand by the van donated to the charity by the four businesses on Monday. The van will be used to make deliveries for the Olive Tree's Food Rescue program. JAIME POLMATEER LLS PHOTO

The Lloydminster Olive Tree is the beneficiary of a new-to-them Ford cargo van, after a group of local restoration companies donated the vehicle, along with a promise to pay fuel, insurance and maintenance for two years.
The van, which will be largely used for the group’s Food Rescue program, was the product of a joke that ended with a real answer instead of a witty rebuttal.
“My husband helps me out when I’m busy and he was running errands for me one day and he was at Border City Fire and Flood,” said Becky Schille, director of the Olive Tree.
“We’d been looking for a van for a year, and he said a joke, ‘You should donate this van to the Olive Tree,’ and Harold (MacKenzie) said right away, ‘You need a van? You can have it.’ So it was awesome.”
Though it was initially MacKenzie’s idea, he brought it to some of his other restoration colleagues in town, asking if they’d like to join forces on the donation, and they all agreed.
Along with Border City Fire and Flood, other contributors were Advanced Cleaning and Restoration, First General Services, and Spectrum Restoration DKI, all of which will chip in for fuel, insurance and maintenance costs for the next two years.
Prior to the donation, Olive Tree workers used their personal vehicles to deliver for the Food Rescue program, dropping off between four and 8,000 lbs. of food to various locations around town each month.
“We’d have to make lots of multiple trips to the grocery stores and different places, we were getting lots of wear and tear, so this is a great time saver; we’re really thankful to have a van for this,” Schille said.
“We’ve been trying to purchase a van or find a van for about a year now, we also do things like donate furniture that’s dropped off: beds and couches and things for people that can use them for free, so that’ll allow us to use the van for that program as well.”
The Olive Tree started its Food Rescue program a few years ago after meeting a lady named Ruby Trudel, who ran a similar program in Yellow Knife.
Schille said she talked to Trudel and found out the amazing benefits such a program has in a community and got to work starting one up Lloydminster.
She said Food Rescue is basically preventing good food from ending up in a landfill, instead getting it to citizens in the community that could use it.
Both local school divisions are recipients of Food Rescue, using the donated victuals for breakfast and lunch programs, and Schille said the Olive Tree couldn’t do it without local support.
“We’re so thankful for the grocery stores, restaurants, individuals and businesses in the town that do food drives and things like that—we wouldn’t be able to run the Food Rescue program without a lot of donated food, so it’s a great program,” she said.
“We’re able to support a lot of other services in the city, the school divisions, other support programs like Metis Housing, the shelters, so we love that, it comes in and goes out just as quickly.”
Travis Stieb, operations manager for Spectrum Restoration DKI, said the van was going to a good home, agreeing organizations like the Olive Tree are important for people in the city.
“I think it’s just a really good cause for everybody to be involved in and really shows our industry is supporting the community,” he said.

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