One Red Deer man is making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
Tom Raba, 25, of Red Deer, sets out between two to four nights a week and delivers much needed and much appreciated supplies to the City’s most vulnerable – the homeless.
“I started by making a care package video for the homeless just to start awareness for the less fortunate. I posted that and I got a lot of response – people asking to donate things to me so I could give them out.”
After initially starting to give out care packages, Raba said he discovered it wasn’t necessarily the best method in getting the items needed to the homeless.
“Not everyone needed every item in that bag. So I separated all of the items into bags and then made shelving for my car because I realized I would be doing this for a while. Now each item is in each individual bin,” he said.
The idea for Raba came after seeing videos on YouTube of people doing similar good deeds. “It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do, but never got around to it. One day I just decided that I wanted to get it done, so I went to the store and grabbed some stuff.”
Items that Raba is giving to those less fortunate include socks, long johns, toques, scarves, gloves, hand warmers, snacks, water, hygiene products such as deodorant, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, among others.
In the warmer months Raba will continue to provide items for the homeless but of course those items will change with the season.
Raba can be found out on Red Deer streets most Monday and Wednesday nights at People’s Place.
“I’m at People’s Place at 6:30 p.m. because that is when they start lining up to get in.”
He also travels to the downtown McDonald’s and the Safe Harbour Society on Sunday nights for a weekly barbeque as well. Raba also has plans to be at the new warming centre too.
“If I see someone on the street and I know that they are homeless because I know them, or if I think that they may be homeless, I will approach them too and see if there is anything that they need,” he said. “A lot of people at People’s Place know me by name now and I just back my car up and pop my trunk and they let me know what they need.”
Raba added those in need are appreciative of what he is doing in the community.
“Everyone that I talk to is really appreciative. There is a bad stigma about the people who are on the street and it’s not true, from what I have seen,” he said. “Most of them have jobs that I have seen and are just in a tough spot right now – they either a part time job or a full time job and just can’t find or get a place. None of them have ever asked me for money, they’ve always just asked me for food and supplies. Not everyone has a great support system around them to help them out.”
Raba said it means a lot to him to be able to give back to those who are less fortunate.
“I love helping out and I like to make a difference in people’s lives. Even if it’s as simple as giving someone a pair of socks to help get them through the night, then it’s worth it to me and it makes me happy – anything I can do to help,” he said. “This is something I want to continue to do for a long time. I’m out two to four times a week, plus the Sunday barbeque. I didn’t know it would take up this much of my time, but I also really love to do it.”
He added he is hoping to spread even more awareness about what he is doing and get more donations to make an even bigger difference as well.
“I’ve had a huge support network on facebook from people messaging me so that has been great.”
Raba is always accepting donations. He can be reached through his facebook page under ‘Tom Raba’.