Edmonton company steps up to get winter warming bus back on the road

An Edmonton business owner has handed over a cheque for $1,000 to get the winter warming bus for the city’s homeless back on the road.

Business donates $1,000 and challenges others to match funds

Andy Holt of A-Squared Communications is challenging other businesses to help get the Boyle Street warming bus on the streets again. 0:57

An Edmonton business owner has handed over a cheque for $1,000 to get the winter warming bus for the city's homeless back on the road.

Having provided the service for about a decade, the bus has been parked this winter due to a lack of money.

"When I saw that the bus was off the road and out of commission, my heart sank because I know how important this is to people," said Andy Holt, president of A-Squared Communications.

Holt sent out a challenge on social media to other Edmonton companies, hoping to encourage 99 more to match his donation, to come up with the $100,000 required.

During volunteer stints with the Salvation Army, Holt saw for himself how the bus helped homeless people in Edmonton.

"There is a desperate need out there for this bus. We've seen many vulnerable people benefit from the use of it," he said.

The hot soup, warm clothes and respite from the cold offered by the bus is a critical service, he said.

More than 1,300 people used the bus at some point last winter, making nearly 6,000 visits.

Coun. Aaron Paquette also took to social media to call on organizations to "do the right thing."

The director of programs for Boyle Street Community Services, which operates the bus, said he was moved by the gesture by A-Squared and hopes it gathers momentum quickly.

"It's not going to get any warmer and people are going to be in tough situations sooner rather than later," said Aidan Inglis, who received the cheque from Holt Thursday.

Inglis said many Edmontonians have expressed concern for the people on the street after hearing the bus is not running.

"They do care and they do want to make a difference," he said.

Boyle Street is also talking to the city in a bid to raise extra money for the bus.

In the meantime, CBC is running a warm winter clothing drive to try to keep homeless people warm this winter.

Its accepting donations of new socks, gloves and hats until tomorrow at its studios inside City Centre Mall.

The donations will be shared with agencies who work with the homeless.