The Beat the Thieves bottle drive held Saturday at InjaNation indoor trampoline and training facility aimed to raise awareness about theft from the business’ donation bin.
InjaNation has partnered with the Vecova Centre for Disability Services and Research for almost two years, donating bottles and housing a collection bin in its parking lot.
But after several incidents of theft from the InjaNation bin, marketing and communication manager Leslie Newell said the business wanted to help replace some of the lost donations.
“When we heard that the bottles kept getting stolen, we said: ‘Hey, let’s rally the community around and create a better benefit for them,'” said Newell. “We are a family facility that hosts a lot of parties and so what better way to pay it forward to an organization like Vecova.”
Vecova social enterprise manager Jerrad Carnie said the theft affects how the non-profit helps its clients.
“It definitely has a big impact on that money being raised and what goes to the programs. (It affects) all the people that we support at Vecova,” Carnie said.
The string of more than a dozen cases of theft in past months has forced Vecova to change its bottle pickup service. Carnie says they’ve doubled up on locks for the outdoor collection bins and have asked residential donors to keep their bottles inside until pickup.
Bottle donations provide Vecova with a vital source of revenue. In 2016, it recycled nearly 16 million containers, bringing in more than $350,000 for persons with disabilities.
The pickup service also gives five Vecova clients a full-time job and a steady paycheque. Derek Cusler has been working with Vecova for five years as a bottle agent and said the organization helped him get back on his feet.
“It makes sure people with disabilities have a job, keep a job and learn new skills,” said Cusler. “It really helped me. I was down a bad path and since I’ve been (at Vecova), I’m way better than I used to be.”
Vecova staff said even if people didn’t have a chance to donate this weekend, getting the word out about the organization and bottle theft was just as important.
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