LAC LA BICHE - An energy company, a local service group and tens of thousands of dollars in cans and bottles have made life a little easier for groups and organizations around the Lakeland.
Dishing out about $16,000 in funding over the last few weeks to several area organizations from their Cash For Cans program, members of the Lac La Biche Kinsmen Club say they 'can' help more local groups.
The Cash For Cans program works in partnership with Canadian Natural. The oil company offers recyclable cans and bottles from the their dry work-camps in the region to the Kinsmen crew to collect. The collection has recycled hundreds and thousands of water bottles, juice containers, milk jugs and pop cans into dollars and support for area groups.
"Since we started collecting in the summer of 2016, we've brought in $141,690," said Lac La Biche Kinsmen Club treasurer and Life Member Blair Norton.
Averaging about $25,000 a year in collections, Kinsmen members use three vehicle trailers to haul to the camps spotted across the northeast, collecting the recycling at regular intervals through the year. The club members do it as volunteers. In recent years, Lac La Biche Transport has helped with the collection.
The Kinsmen appreciate the partnership with Canadian Natural, says Norton.
"They're helping a community service group with their own community service," said Norton, "and we help others."
In the latest round of Cash For Cans application approvals, the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre, Beaver Lake Cree Nation's Amisk School, the Northern Beat Dance Academy, local hockey organizations and J.A. Williams High School were awarded funding.
Norton said applications can be submitted through the Lac La Biche Kinsmen Club's website. Clubs and organizations from within the Canadian Natural work area are invited to apply at any time of the year.
"Conklin, Bonnyville, Lac La Biche... across the region," said Norton, explaining that a selection committee makes the decision on the requests based on need and available funds. Because the Kinsmen Club is a volunteer group, Norton said the applications can take a few weeks to be approved or acted on.
While a small portion of the funds collected from the program go back into maintenance and operating costs for the program, Norton says the lion's share of the collected funds go right back into the region.
"It's local groups helping local groups. Especially now, when we hear about volunteer burnout and tough times, we're happy to offer something easy for groups to apply for. As long as the funds are available, the application process is simple."
The Canadian Natural - Lac La Biche Kinsmen Club Cash For Cans application can be found at www.laclabichekinsmen.ca or by clicking on the links in the digital version of this story.