Bottle drive helping kids eat in Penticton

Empty bottles feeding kids

Chelsea Powrie

The Penticton Elks Lodge No. 51 has been gathering empty bottles and cans for weeks, all in support of the Rotary Starfish Pack program that has been struggling during COVID-19. 

The lodge had signed up earlier this winter to help out with the Starfish program, which helps feed children in the local school district.

"Typically, prior to COVID, we would deliver 60 backpacks of food for the weekends for kids in need here in Penticton. Four of those go to Ecole Entre-lacs, and the other 56 are distributed in School District 67 to elementary school students," program chair Tracy Van Raes explained. 

But when the pandemic struck, that changed. The Starfish program moved toward providing gift cards to local grocery stores, and Elks volunteers found themselves with idle hands. 

"They reached out and they wanted to help, so they decided to do an ongoing bottle drive, to raise funds for those gift cards and what will happen in September with these kids," Van Raes said. 

A few weeks in, the volunteers have already gathered, sorted and donated $500 worth of recyclables, with no plans to slow down. 

"They were over there packing them up again today," said Deborah Sayese, Elks canteen manager. "It's been awesome. I've been driving around picking bottles up from peoples' driveways." 

Anyone with extra recyclables can contact the Elks via their Facebook page to arrange pickup, or drop them off at the lodge between 4-5 p.m. every Friday. 

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