Elks Association president Guy Whitford (left) and Len George (right) presented RCMP Cpl. Kurt Neuman (center) with $700 in Save-On-Foods gift cards on July 19, which is to be doled out to Kinsmen housing project families this summer. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

Grocery gift cards give struggling Aldergrove families ‘a leg up’

Elks Association initiative sparks a wave of local generosity

A contagion of kindness has swept through the Aldergrove community this past month, one that has lent a “helping hand” to families struggling to cover the cost of groceries.

The Aldergrove Elks Association presented Langley RCMP Cpl. Kurt Neuman with $700 in Save-On-Foods gift cards at their headquarters on July 19.

Save-On-Foods manager Cam Bates of the Aldergrove store, after hearing about the Elks plans, added an extra $200 to the original amount donated ($500) – which is all to be given to families in need this summer.

The grocery gift card initiative began with a highly selective vetting process.

It led to Neuman knocking on the recipient’s door with vouchers and a message of support from the Elks.

“These cards represent hope to the recipients, a helping hand,” Neuman explained.

Over the past week, Neuman – who works as Aldergrove’s community police liaison – surprised six families with an accumulated amount of $180 in vouchers.

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Most of the families live in the Kinsmen Park Place housing project located at 27402 34nd Avenue.

Charitable organization BC Kinsmen Housing Society operates the 29 year old complex, as well as one in Abbotsford and two others like it in Langley.

Rent on the townhouses are subsidized by the provincial government through BC Housing, in order for low-income families to be able to afford rent and other provisions.

The response to the grocery vouchers has admittedly “blown away,” RCMP Cpl. Neuman.

One single mother even broke down in tears when she saw the gift cards.

“She couldn’t believe it,” Neuman retold.

“She said it came at exactly the right time.”

On Tuesday, that same mother and her young child waved at the officer with glee from inside their car while they were out and about.

“Most of the families chosen were those parented by hardworking single mothers,” Neuman explained about the decided recipients.

During summer months, disadvantaged school-aged children are not assisted by the Starfish Pack program offerings – a backpack full of food for a family to last the weekend, lessening the burden of food security on their parent(s).

The Elks initiative will be able to supplement some of that need, Neuman said eagerly.

“When we see an opportunity to touch lives and help children in the community we jump at it. That’s why we’re here,” emphasized Elks president Guy Whitford.

“We’re trying to give these families a boost, a leg up,” Elks vice-president Len George added.

The Aldergrove Elks are a non-profit chapter focused on children’s charity work, with yearly projects including a free Christmas party with gifts and entertainment for Aldergrove families.

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Their latest initiative has been a compounded effort, Whitford admitted.

“As more people hear of the work we’re doing, the more they want to join in and help too. We [the Elks] have gotten offers of new baby’s clothing and support to purchase more gift cards.”

Partnerships like this make the community stronger, by helping vulnerable families, Neuman said.

The corporal plans to go out again next week and deliver more good news and grocery vouchers to families he knows will put them to good use.

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