Winter warming bus for Edmonton's homeless reaches fundraising goal

The winter warming bus for Edmonton’s homeless will be back on city streets soon, after a spontaneous campaign to fund it reached its goal Wednesday.

The $100,000 needed to get the bus running again was raised thanks in a large part to a donation of $61,500 from the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” said Aidan Inglis, director of programs at Boyle Street Community Services, which operates the bus.

“We were not expecting that at all.”

Inglis said it has been heartwarming to see so many people donate to the cause after hearing there was no money available to run the bus this year.

The bus has been a life-saving service for about a decade, providing people on the street a place to warm up, and get hot soup, sandwiches and winter clothing.

The campaign to get the bus back on the road gathered momentum after A-Squared Communications donated $1,000 to the cause last week and challenged other local businesses to follow.

Coun. Aaron Paquette also called for organizations and coalitions to “do the right thing.”

After a flood of donations, including one from a young girl who gave her own pocket money, Boyle Street announced it was about one-third of the way to it’s goal Tuesday, having raised $35,500.

The $61,500 donation from the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, along with a number of other contributions, has pushed the campaign to its goal.

Inglis said the hospital foundation saw how valuable the service was and wanted to keep it going.

“A lot of the folks who the bus engages with are the same folks they see using the services at the hospital,” Inglis said. “Having a bus on the road and being able to connect people with services, we’re avoiding having them in the emergency rooms.”

Jobs for two support workers to ride along with the bus driver have already been posted. Inglis said he is hopeful the bus will out again by next week.

The hospital foundation is expected to announce its gift at a news conference Thursday morning.

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