Rough sleeping population at risk during southern Alberta heat wave

LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. — When it’s this hot out, some Albertans may choose to hunker down in a cool, air-conditioned basement.

But for those living on the street, or in and out of shelters, that’s not an option.

“There’s no place for people to go to get out of the heat and so, where the library might be close or people have smaller load limits at some of our stores or what not where people would get some shelter, shade is the best they can find,” said Executive Director of Lethbridge’s Interfaith Food Bank Danielle McIntyre.

“If we can at least get them a bottle of water for them while they are cooling down, it’s a step in the right direction to ensure their safety.”

The two local food banks, Streets Alive Mission, the Sage Clan, My City Care and Food Share have all partnered up to collect water bottles to be given out to the city’s vulnerable population.

The goal is to collect 10,000 bottles for what’s expected to be a long, hot summer.

“We saw the heat wave coming. The forecast was accurate and so one of the things we did was we stocked up on water. We wanted to make sure that we were able to give out water on these hot days,” said Pieter Van Ewijk, the  Director of Administration and Finance for Streets Alive Mission .

“We are still early in the water bottle drive, but the Lethbridge community is very generous. When we have a need, they jump at it.”

CYCLING TO WORK

Jesse Tabor is one man who certainly appreciates that generosity after having to bike roughly 80 km from Claresholm to Lethbridge.

“I made it, and there’s actually some Good Samaritans out there that actually have extra drinking water because I wasn’t aware the trip was that long,” he said.

jess, tabor, biking, heat, wave

“[Streets Alive] is where I get my water. I mean, they help out lots. They’re here for clothing when you need it too. I came here to get some shorts because I’m dying in my normal clothes.”

Tabor is currently staying at the Alpha House shelter after his eight hour bike ride.

Heat stroke can take affect quite rapidly when a person’s body temperature reaches 40C or higher and can result in damage to the brain, kidneys, heart and muscles.

Strenuous physical activity, prolonged exposure to the sun and dehydration dramatically increases a person’s chances of suffering serious heat stroke symptoms.

With Lethbridge reaching a high of 33C on Thursday, the demand for bottled water exploded and organizations like Streets Alive and the Interfaith Food Bank are hoping Lethbridge residents continue to step up to the plate by making donations to ensure everyone in the community is safe this summer.

To support the cause, people are asked to simply drop off any monetary or water bottle donations to either of the Interfaith Food Bank locations in Lethbridge.

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