Kelowna couple's effort to collect empties in backcountry pays off for search and rescue | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna couple's effort to collect empties in backcountry pays off for search and rescue

Barbara Kitz, centre, and Raymond Imbeau, right, are pictured in this undated photo submitted by Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Central Okanagan Search and Rescue

A dedicated Kelowna couple who spend a lot of time picking up empties in the bush has made their second major donation to the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.

Last year, Raymond Imbeau and Barbara Kitz donated $700 to help pay for a TrailRider chair, after riding the backroads on their ATV picking up refundable cans, bottles and juice containers.

“They were our single largest contributor,” Ed Henczel, the association’s media relations officer told

The TrailRider is a chair used for rescuing injured people who can’t walk but don’t require a stretcher. The search and rescue group recently received the chair and plan to install an electric motor to help get it up hills. In all, it will cost about $10,000. In the past, they had to borrow a TrailRider from Community Recreational Initiatives Society.

Imbeau and Kitz didn’t stop there. Last week they donated another $1,800 to Central Okanagan Search and Rescue – again from collecting empties.

“We spent a month in the Kootenays, near the Bugaboos and as far south as Invermere,” Imbeau said in a news release. “We didn’t find as many bottles there. Most came from the Okanagan.”

After last year’s story went viral, neighbours started leaving their recyclables for the couple.

“We have about 10 families that donate to us,” said Imbeau. “It helped a lot.”

They also go on nightly walks in their central Okanagan neighbourhood collecting empties.

In all, they’ve picked up 28,000 refundable containers, including a one-day haul of 1,250 cans from a single location in the South Okanagan.

This year’s donation will go towards a new F-550 response vehicle, Henczel said.

Because there is no stable government funding for search and rescue organizations in B.C., he said they are forced to rely heavily on donations and grants.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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