Young girl collects donations for Kamloops's beloved volunteer street cleaner | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Young girl collects donations for Kamloops's beloved volunteer street cleaner

Natalie holds up the card she and her mother made for Kamloops' volunteer street cleaner Ben James.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Amber Nelson
December 08, 2020 - 6:30 AM

A Kamloops girl met a local volunteer last week, and their brief interaction inspired her to do something special for him this Christmas.

The man she met was Ben James, well known for keeping the downtown streets clean for free. 

"We saw him cleaning, so I gave my daughter some change and she wanted to give him her fruit snack out of her lunch kit,” Kamloops resident Amber Nelson said. "He was so excited to get the fruit snacks, and he was so kind, he came down to her level and thanked her."

READ MORE: Kamloops' beloved volunteer street cleaner gets a free meal

Later that night her daughter, Natalie, said she couldn’t stop thinking about him and wished they could have given him more.

They decided to make him a Christmas basket, and put out a call on a community Facebook group to anyone who wanted to donate.

Many locals knew Ben and were eager to help him out. Nelson was shocked by the outpouring of charity from the community.

Ben James, left, is awarded a certificate by Coun. Kathy Sinclair recognizing his efforts cleaning up downtown Kamloops.
Ben James, left, is awarded a certificate by Coun. Kathy Sinclair recognizing his efforts cleaning up downtown Kamloops.
Image Credit: TWITTER/Kathy Sinclair

“It’s pretty unbelievable, the response that we’ve gotten,” she said. “I didn’t expect this at all.”

Nelson said they got two big garbage bins, safety gear, gloves, cleaning supplies, gift cards, sweaters, blankets, food and $450 for more items.

Nelson will seek out Ben ahead of time to arrange a drop-off point for all the donations, then she and her daughter will deliver the gifts shortly before Christmas.

They have also made him a giant card, signed by or on behalf of those who donated.

READ MORE: Kamloops recognizes work of volunteer street cleaner

The experience has been a big eye-opener, she said, seeing how much people were willing to give even during a pandemic, a time of financial hardship for many.

"Just seeing how humble everyone can be when someone’s in need, even when people are struggling themselves,” she said. "It feels amazing, and it’s such as good way to end the year."

Anyone interested in donating can contact Amber Nelson by email before Dec. 18.


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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