The dying wish of a bottle picker who struggled with homelessness and addictions is living on through the actions of a young Calgary boy.
Cole MelvinRook, 10, pedals door-to-door on a large red trike four times a week, collecting bottles and cans to raise money for Inn from the Cold, which helps homeless families.
"I feel everybody should have a home, food on the table and a roof over their head," said Cole.
Cole's desire to help was sparked by his red trike and the touching story behind it. It belonged to a man known as Gaston.
Gaston was a fixture at a downtown bottle depot and saved up his bottle picking money to buy the red trike, recalls Lloyd Cooper, who works at the depot.
“Somehow he managed to save up. All of a sudden he shows up and he has this real big deluxe trike. A real nice bike with a big basket on it so he could carry his bags of bottles and his gear. He looked kind of prominent riding around on it because it was easy for him, easy on the body.”
A wish to help homeless families
Jaclyn Height, who worked at the Sharp Foundation, helped Gaston find a place to live.
"He was a little rough around the edges, but I thought he was probably worth the chance," she said.
When Gaston died suddenly last November of a lung infection, Height opened the will she had saved for him.
She discovered she was the executor and he had left all his possessions — essentially his trike — to Inn from the Cold because he wanted to help women and children in need.
“He had such a heart of gold," she said.
Silent auction winner gives away trike
Last month, the charity sold Gaston's bike at a silent auction for $2,500.
The man who bought the bike passed it on to young Cole, who had learned about Gaston that night and wanted to carry on his dream.
Linda McLean, executive director of Inn from the Cold, said it couldn't be more fitting that a child stepped forward to support other children in need.
“It was really was sort of serendipity that the young man Cole came up with this idea on his own at the gala,” she said.
"I think that’s amazing and ultimately it’s the purest representation of what Gaston could have wished for.”
Cole has collected about $200 and hopes to raise $20,000 over the next year. Cole will then return the red trike and Inn from the Cold will auction it off again to someone who they hope will find their own way of supporting Gaston's dream.