A community-spirited business has stepped up to help Happy Valley-Goose Bay residents without access to transportation get their groceries following the Sept. 15 Northmart fire.
“People are very shocked, to say the least, and everyone’s kind of on edge, ’cause there’s limited grocery shopping already and Northmart had a lot of household items and clothing, so it is a really big hit,” said Jenny Seaward, community and youth director for the Salvation Army.
She said the majority of the Salvation Army’s clients are located in the valley, so most of them did go to Northmart — particularly those who don’t have vehicles.
“We have a food voucher program that they would get the choice to go to Northmart or Co-op, so now the Co-op is their only option,” she said.
Jason Thistle of Precision Automotive said he first learned of the problem on Facebook and wanted to do something about it.
“I noticed that some people on there were saying the town should put a service on to help the people who don’t have any means to get (to the Co-op),” he said. “We own the car (rental) agency here, so we’ve got enough vehicles in our arsenal here that we can help out a little bit.”
With encouragement from town council, they decided to run a shuttle Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — and demand was immediate. He said on the first day, Sept. 21, they ran six or seven times, and by noon on Sept. 24, had already done another six trips.
Seaward has been referring people to the shuttle service.
“(Jason is) so willing, and he’s been here in minutes,” she said. “I’m sure he is very busy, but he’s been very accommodating. We’re very thankful for him.”
Susan Lyall, office manager at Terrington Co-op, said they have noticed an uptick in business since the fire, but she had no way of telling how much of it was due to Thistle’s shuttle. Nevertheless, she commended Thistle’s community-mindedness.
“We all think it’s a wonderful thing, and we applaud him,” she said.
For his part, Thistle downplayed his actions.
“We’ve been here seven years and people’s been helping us out, so we’re just giving back,” he said.
He said they would continue to run the service as long as Northmart is closed.