Ron Makkinga of RM Livestock brought his 24-foot cattle trailer on Saturday (Dec. 11) to the homeless camp behind Walmart on Vedder Way in Abbotsford to haul away garbage. More than 2,400 kilograms was collected. (Submitted photo)

Ron Makkinga of RM Livestock brought his 24-foot cattle trailer on Saturday (Dec. 11) to the homeless camp behind Walmart on Vedder Way in Abbotsford to haul away garbage. More than 2,400 kilograms was collected. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford group cleans up homeless camp and provides petting zoo and pizza

Camp residents asked to provide 2 bags of garbage in exchange for treats

A group of local residents teamed up on Saturday (Dec. 11) in Abbotsford to help bring some joy to those less fortunate.

The venture began when resident Jen Neville, owner of Cinemazoo Animal Agency, heard a statistic that there are four drug-related overdose deaths for every one COVID-related death, and the number doubles over the holiday season.

She thought about how most people at this time of year are deciding which colour lights to use, who gets what gift and whether they should cook a turkey or ham for their Christmas feast.

“But there’s a group of people here in Abbotsford who don’t make any of those decisions. They are focused on where do we find a meal today, how do we dry our soaking clothes in this rain, and how cold will it get when we go to sleep tonight – outside. They are the homeless,” she said.

ALSO READ: Abbotsford ‘haircut ministry’ provides food and hygiene to homeless population

Neville spoke with her daughter Bobbie and long-time friend and co-worker Ron Makkinga of RM Livestock about what they could do to help.

Makkinga had the idea of bringing his 24-foot cattle trailer to clean the homeless camp in the area behind the Walmart on Vedder Way in east Abbotsford.

Neville and her daughter suggested bringing some of their animal companions for a visit.

“Animals are so therapeutic and we are blessed to be in a position to be able to share that with others,” Neville said.

They then called upon family and friends to get together and help.

On Saturday they visited the camp and provided a free petting zoo, pizza, hot chocolate, tarps and gifts bags – in exchange for two bags of garbage.

“The residents of the camp were delighted to help. After filling their two bags, many continued to help clean for the afternoon until the entire 24-foot trailer was full. A few of the guys even went to the dump to offload the 2,420 kilograms of garbage collected,” Neville said.

She said a big thank you is due to all those who shared their time or gifts, including Canadian Tire, KMS Tools, Tim Hortons and the Salvation Army.

ALSO READ: Abbotsford Police’s street outreach team holds community cleanup



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Homelessness

 

Jen Neville and her daughter Bobbie of Cinemazoo Animal Agency brought a petting zoo on Saturday (Dec. 11) to the homeless camp behind Walmart on Vedder Way in Abbotsford. (Submitted)

Jen Neville and her daughter Bobbie of Cinemazoo Animal Agency brought a petting zoo on Saturday (Dec. 11) to the homeless camp behind Walmart on Vedder Way in Abbotsford. (Submitted)