Dedicated group of volunteers collect bottles every Saturday in support of South Okanagan charities for more than a decade

Using empties to help others

Casey Richardson

A small but mighty group of Penticton volunteers spend every single Saturday—aside from this Christmas and New Year’s—at the local IGA parking lot, collecting bottles for donations to local charities.

It started over 11 years ago, thanks to Pat Wand and her team of volunteers, and gives them all a cause to be proud of.

Volunteer Irene Ramsey joined a few years ago when she moved into town and has been helping out at the Penticton and Summerland drive.

“Here in Penticton we have five charities that we send the money to, and in Summerland, there's a charity bottle drop off at the IGA there as well, and [it goes] to charities in Summerland. So basically the money stays in the city,” she said.

Despite the biting wind on Saturday, the volunteers were bundled up and working their usual collection.

“We just dress for it. Sometimes we have to work a little slower because it's too hot or we work a little faster because it's too cold,” Ramsey said with a laugh.

So far no weather has stopped them from coming out.

Each week the drive manages to raise between $400-$500.

“It's plenty enough that I don't feel that I'm wasting my time. We're busy, so that means we're making money to hand out.”

Ramsey said that it’s also a simple way for the community to give back and help out the environment too.

“It doesn't go to waste. It doesn't go in people's blue bins or in the garbage, because going to the bottle depot can be a bit of a pain. Here, it's easy.”

Lately, the group has been getting so many donations that they sometimes store the ones they can’t get to for another day before it's hauled off to the depot by Wand.

The group accepts bottle donations every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. outside the Penticton and Summerland IGA stores.

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