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Strangers step up to help Elk Point senior stay warm

“I just thought I’ll help out my neighbour. And then all of a sudden, there’s so many people helping out.” 

ELK POINT – When Kevin McAnally was working on Sunday, his phone rang. He heard his wife’s voice, Annette McAnally, on the other end. She was almost in tears. 

He asked Annette what was wrong. 

She relayed that their neighbour, Randy, a 70-year-old man, had stopped by with an ice cream pail, asking if he could get a clean bucket of water. 

Confused, Kevin asked, “What did he want a bucket for?” Annette said Randy needed it for drinking water. 

Randy’s pipes were frozen. Everything was frozen. He didn’t have a furnace and uses firewood to heat his home. But he had not been able to get any heat at all due to a lack of firewood. 

That weekend, an extreme cold weather warning was issued across the province. In Elk Point, which is located 35 km southeast of St. Paul, the temperatures felt colder than –40 C some days. 

Upon arriving home, Kevin chopped up some spare wood and gave it to Randy.  

Kevin told Lakeland Today that Randy didn’t ask for help, not even from his closest friends. When asked why, “[Randy] said that he didn’t want to trouble anybody,” recalls Kevin. 

So, Kevin contemplated sharing his neighbour’s story on social media. He says he doesn’t post often, but he knew Randy needed help. So, he did it, hoping a couple of friends or people in Elk Point would be able to lend a hand. 

Help from strangers 

But he did not expect the outpouring of support that he would receive – support not only from Elk Point, but surrounding areas like St. Paul, Lindberg, and even Bonnyville. 

People kept phoning and reaching out over social media to help. They donated money and wood, “And that’s not cheap.” 

One resident who lives in Bonnyville called Kevin, saying they needed Randy’s address. This individual called a supply store who then brought loads of wood to Randy’s home. 

“He paid for a load of wood, and I couldn’t believe it,” said Kevin. Seeing all the support, “I just feel overwhelmed... I don’t know what to say.” 

Big acts of kindness 

Kevin said he was also concerned about the pipes in Randy’s small home. He checked it out and “everything was frozen,” including the waterlines throughout the home. Kevin was worried. 

But more people got in touch, donating to help pay for any potential damage at Randy’s home, including fixing the frozen pipes. 

On Jan. 16, while Kevin was at work, his wife told him that somebody came in to check things out at Randy’s home, and Kevin said that when the individual turned on the water to check for leaks, “Sure enough, there was a broken line and it started spraying, so they turned it off again.” 

When Kevin went home, his wife told him what transpired. The stranger called a plumber and gave them a credit card number to pay for anything that needed to be repaired. 

“I was like... you got to be kidding.” Kevin said he didn’t know the stranger’s name, nor did he get a chance to meet them. 

Kevin hopes to get in contact with the stranger since other people also donated funds, and he did not want the stranger to foot the bill alone. 

When asked if Kevin knew the names of the people who helped his neighbour and donated, he said, “I tried to... some of them would only say like, ‘my name is Susie’,” giving just their first names or nicknames. 

Kevin believes the countless people who stepped up simply wanted to help, and they were not seeking recognition - just like Kevin did. Lakeland Today approached Kevin to share the story. 

“I just thought I’ll help out my neighbour. And then all of a sudden, there’s so many people helping out.” 

According to Kevin, he understands that Randy “had a run of bad lack in the last few months... And I didn’t know all this until yesterday [Jan. 15].” 

Kevin also wanted to relay that Randy is grateful to everyone who helped.  

“He was just in disbelief... he’s humbled, very humbled.” 

As of Jan. 16, Kevin said there are now several piles of wood for Randy, and it should keep him warm for a while. 

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