630 Ched's Scott Johnson's article on Donate A Ride.

Donate-a-ride, the first city council initiated charity is entering it’s 20th year of raising money to provide free transit to clients of 73 social agencies. It’s hoping to establish a new record of over 101,136 transit tickets to help low income individuals get to essential appointments, through ETS.

“Donate-a-ride’s goal is to make public transit available to everyone, so no one has to make incredibly hard sacrifices to get around this city,” Coun. Dave Loken, the co-chair of the charity said at the launch Monday morning at City Hall. “Our message to individual Edmontonians and businesses is to think of Donate-a-ride this holiday season. Donating just the cost of a cup of coffee can get some one where they need to be and change their life forever.”

The program has come a long way since it’s modest beginning in 1996, when the founder, former Alderman Alan Bolstad got the idea, after trying to help his life back in order.

“He showed up again at our overnight shelter a few nights later and I asked him how it went, and he said he didn’t go,” Bolstad recounted the story. “I said what to you mean you didn’t go? We had it all lined up, and he said he didn’t have anyway of getting there, he didn’t have any money for the bus. And I said ‘the bus stopped you from getting there?’ after we had things all lined up, wow, how crazy is that?”

That first year 1,840 transit tickets, valued at $2,764 were raised. “I look at the list now of 73 agencies and I know that’s going to a lot of people who can just use a little bit of a break, in many cases on a temporary basis,” Bolstad said.

“The importance of a bus ticket is sometimes the beginning of some dignity that many of our kids won’t find anywhere else, so it helps them be in a position that they’re not panhandling,” said Karen Good of the Youth Empowerment and Support Services, or YESS.

The 2016 campaign comes with a new web page, new logo, and a relaunch trying to get the donations dramatically increased. Coun. Bryan Anderson has brought several schools into the fold.

“What would happen if everybody in our city gave one bus ticket?” he said. “We’d have 800,000 bus tickets to distribute to people who are having personal crises. One. I suggested that to several principals of elementary schools. You’ve got 800 families in your school, if you want to do some kind of a fund raiser challenge the families to come up with one ticket.”

The campaign runs until the end of March.

(sj) To read the full article on 630 Ched's website please visit this link; http://www.630ched.com/2015/12/14/donate-a-ride-launches-20th-season/

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