For Menno Koehoorn and others, 84-year-old Gus has been a fixture in south Abbotsford, as he tours neighbourhoods on his bicycle to collect empty cans and bottles to supplement his income.
Last Friday, Gus dropped by Koehoorn’s King Road home and said it would be his last time to pick up the items.
With tears in his eyes, Gus explained that he had been in the hospital for 17 of the last 30 days and was too sick to continue, although he didn’t elaborate on his illness.
The news was upsetting to Koehoorn, who first met Gus 13 years ago when he started coming by his place.
He knew how much Gus enjoyed riding his bicycle and visiting the neighbours.
Many of them had “adopted” Gus and helped him out as much as they could, including saving their empty bottles and cans.
Koehoorn is now asking people to save their cans and bottles over Christmas and drop them on Gus’s driveway on Boxing Day and beyond.
Koehoorn said Gus has friends with trucks who will then shuttle the loads to the bottle depot and turn the money over to Gus.
“Abbotsford is the most giving community in all of Canada,” Koehoorn said. “Let’s surprise Gus and show how much we care for and respect him.”
Koehoorn has posted the information on his Facebook page, and several people have come forward not only to donate bottles, but to help Gus with other tasks.
For example, someone has offered to cook him a meal. Another woman volunteered to clean his home.
Koehoorn says Gus would be thrilled if people dropped off cans and bottles for him.
“Gus’s eyes light up when he spots one can. Can you imagine a driveway full?” he said.
Empty bottles and cans can be dropped off on Boxing Day – or after that – at 33220 Huntingdon Road.