Preschooler surprises parents with plan to help the homeless

Dave Rigdon, almost 4, of Abbotsford collects bottles to turn in for cash

At first, Danielle Rigdon was a tad embarrassed when her son Dave, who turns four on Dec. 19, wanted to pick up bottles and cans when they were out walking.

He had come to her about two months ago, saying he wanted to make money, just like his mom and dad do when they go to work.

He had seen them taking their own cans to the bottle depot, and thought that would be a good way for him to do it.

At first, Danielle tried to discourage Dave from picking up the items – usually along Discovery Trail on their way from their west Abbotsford home to preschool – but her strong-willed child insisted on putting them in the bottom of his brother Seth’s stroller.

Danielle figured there wasn’t any real harm in the task so she let her boy continue. Dave often climbed over fences along their route to get at the cans or dashed into prickle bushes to retrieve them.

Sometimes his brother, exactly one year younger, would help.

Soon, his collection grew, and Danielle assumed he would want to exchange them for cash to purchase a new toy.

One day last week, on the way to preschool, the pair had a conversation.

“This is money, right, Mom?” Dave said as he peered into his bag of cans.

“After we cash them in,” Danielle replied.

“Mom, I want to cash them in and give money to the homeless and maybe they won’t be homeless anymore,” David said.

Danielle burst into tears, gave her son a big hug and said, “Honey, that is wonderful!”

She had no idea that such an idea had been percolating in her son’s head. But it’s the kind of lesson that she and her husband, Brian, have tried to instill in their two boys.

Brian and Danielle know what it’s like to struggle, both having overcome drug addictions. Brian has been clean and sober for six years and Danielle five.

Brian spent 27 years in and out prison and has lived in the Downtown Eastside. Danielle herself spent six years in jail.

They met while both attending separate treatment centres in Abbotsford and Brian was doing some gardening at the location where Danielle was staying.

Now, Brian is a foreman, Danielle runs a housecleaning business and they own their own home. Danielle plans to return to university in the new year to become a personal trainer.

They talk to their sons and pray with them about people who are suffering.

“I really want to instill in my children that no matter what walk of life you’re at – let it be that you’re homeless and poor or let it be you’re addicted and homeless or rich and living in a mansion – it doesn’t matter. People are people,” Danielle said.

“We’re all a little broken, we’re all a little lost and we all need help from time to time, and the only time you should be looking down on someone is if you’re helping them up.”

Still, Danielle said she was surprised to learn that those messages seem to be getting through to her sons at such an early age.

She said Dave has collected about $60 worth of bottles so far, and the family plans to donate the money to Chilliwack’s Pearl Life Renewal Society, which offers support and services to sexually exploited girls and women. Danielle’s best friend is on the board of the society.

But Dave might just keep a little bit of money for himself. He would like to buy a toy police car.

 

Just Posted

Crews respond to fire in detached garage on Maple Avenue in Chilliwack

Firefighters had to access the small fire via neighbouring property on Woodbine Street

Chilliwack Chiefs chosen to play in CJHL Prospects Game

Harrison Blaisdell and Kevin Wall are among 11 BCHL stars selected to play in the showcase game.

Chilliwack soccer star Jordyn Huitema coming home for the holidays

After a crazy-good year with the Canadian national soccer program, the teenager deserves a break.

Chilliwack jury acquits man of choking, violent sexual assaults of girlfriends

Michael Sean Myers found guilty of criminal harassment and uttering threats in BC Supreme Court

Chilliwack school kids draw ‘don’t drink and drive’ messages on liquor store bags

Children from six elementary schools decorate bags as part of promotion created by local Mountie

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla, Highway 3

Make sure to equip winter tires if travelling

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Coquihalla closed between Hope and Merritt

The highway is closed in the northbound lane

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Most Read