Kamloops' beloved volunteer street cleaner gets a free meal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops' beloved volunteer street cleaner gets a free meal

Ben is well-known around the community for cleaning the streets of downtown Kamloops for free.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Gerald Thiessen
August 21, 2020 - 5:30 PM

If you've walked the streets of downtown Kamloops, chances are you've seen a young man sweeping the streets and picking up trash.

That man is Ben James, and for three years he's been keeping the streets of Kamloops clean for free. This week, a local restaurant owner decided to show his appreciation for Ben with a free meal. 

“He’s an advocate for the community, he’s friendly to everyone out there," Gerald Thiessen, owner of Papa G's Cafe, said. “He does it out of the goodness of his heart.”

Thiessen has been running a daily contest where customers can win a free meal by engaging with Papa G's social media posts. 

"I post on Facebook every morning, if you like comment and share the post, you have a chance to win whatever I picked that day," he said. "When somebody won a meal and they wanted to pay it forward, I said next time I see Ben in the neighbourhood, I’ll give it to Ben."



On Tuesday, Thiessen spotted Ben cleaning the street across from Papa G's. He told him someone had opted to pay it forward with their free meal, and Thiessen had chosen to give it to him.   
“He was very appreciative and thanked me,” he said.

He added that the woman who had won the meal initially was excited that it would be going to Ben.

Ben is well-known around the community as a friendly presence keeping garbage and needles off the streets. He also once ran for mayor in 2014. 
Theissen said Ben is a familiar face around his restaurant, but he never wants to come inside to eat because he sweats outside all day, he worries about disturbing the other customers.
“But I welcome him anyways, regardless," he said. "He’s a good guy.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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