Edmonton charity hard-hit by vehicle vandalism, theft calls for donations

Delivery trucks are integral to the Edmonton Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.  The charity provides food, furniture and household items to people across the city.   (David Bajer/CBC - image credit)
Delivery trucks are integral to the Edmonton Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. The charity provides food, furniture and household items to people across the city. (David Bajer/CBC - image credit)

Hard-hit by vandalism and vehicle theft, an Edmonton charity that helps some of the city's low-income residents is struggling to meet surging demand.

The Edmonton Society of Saint Vincent de Paul's fleet of six delivery trucks has been repeatedly targeted by thieves over the past year. The charity says the losses have cost it $100,000.

The volunteer-run charity uses the trucks to deliver food, furniture and household items to people in need across the city.

"We can't fulfil our obligations of delivering furniture and beds to the poor if we don't have our fleet," Randy Yatscoff, president of the society's Edmonton central council, said Friday.

On Jan. 11, one of the charity's delivery trucks was stolen from Edmonton's Argyll neighbourhood. The same day, volunteers discovered that a second truck, parked overnight in St. Albert, had been vandalized.

Other acts of vandalism have hurt the charity over the last year.

David Bajer/CBC
David Bajer/CBC

Six catalytic converters have been stolen from its vehicles. Two trucks were damaged during gasoline thefts. Yatscoff said one had its locks broken and the other had a hole drilled into its gas tank.

Edmonton police have not responded to a request for comment.

The organization is having to spend money on vehicle repairs at the same time demand for services is increasing sharply, Yatscoff said.

Calls for service have more than doubled since 2021. The society fielded 6,039 requests for service in 2022, compared with 2,527 in the previous year.

"It's not just hurting Saint Vincent de Paul," Yatscoff said. "It's hurting the impoverished in the Edmonton region and that's what bothers me the most."

The organization has fleet insurance but it's not enough to cover the mounting cost of keeping the fleet intact, Yatscoff said.

"We have to recover these dollars and so we can continue our work in helping the poor," he said.  "That's the long and short of it."

The Edmonton branch of the society has about 600 volunteers and no paid staff. Its services are financed through charitable donations, grants from various sources, charity sales, and its retail outlet, Vinnies Treasure Shoppe.

He said the need in the city is overwhelming. He said people are struggling with the rising cost of living and unemployment.

"It's been bad year and I don't see any improvement in the near horizon," he said.

"Many of our members, we go to sleep at night wondering how we're going to meet the demands on our organization," Yatscoff said. "In the past we could try, we could keep up with it, but now it's very difficult."

"Edmontonians are very generous people and hopefully they will come forward and help us in our time of need here."