Leesa Patenaude, left and Linda Harbo, sit in front of trailer filled with empty bottles. Harbo has been collecting empty bottles for months in order to raise money for an upcoming missionary trip to Zambia, where she and Patenaude will volunteer at an orphanage that is home to 150 children with HIV. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/NEWS BULLETIN)

Community responds after Nanaimo women have hundreds of empty bottles stolen

Proceeds will be used to fund upcoming missionary trip to Zambia

Sometimes good can come from the bad.

That’s exactly the case for Nanaimo resident Linda Harbo.

For weeks, Harbo has been collecting empty bottles in an effort to raise money for an upcoming missionary trip to Africa. As her collection grew by the hundreds, she began storing empties inside a trailer in her backyard.

But on Aug. 13, Harbo returned from home work only to discover all the bottles were stolen. The following day, Harbo turned to Facebook to vent her frustration.

“I was so upset,” Harbo said.

Amazingly, less than 24 hours after posting, Harbo says her trailer had been refilled with bottles. Some of them even had money inside them.

“It was unbelievable. It brought me to tears,” Harbo said. “To see my trailer filled up and that people in the community had just filled it up was overwhelming. Beauty from ashes.”

In November, Harbo and her friend Leesa Patenaude will head to Ndola, a city roughly 315 kilometres north of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, for two weeks. They will volunteer at an orphanage, home to approximately 150 children with HIV. It’s all part of a missionary effort led by Abbotsford-based charitable organization, Seeds Of Hope Children’s Ministry, which operates the orphanage.

Harbo says she’s raised $500 from empty bottles so far, but is hoping to raise $1,000. She said all money raised will be used to provide the children with Christmas gifts, food and supplies.

“We are going to use the money to put on a Christmas dinner for a 150 orphans that have HIV,” Harbo said. “Many of them don’t have parents or any family. So we are going to be putting on a turkey dinner, buy presents, wrap presents and decorate. It’ll be the whole works, just like a traditional Christmas.”

Although Harbo embarked on similar missionary trips to Africa before, it will be Patenaude’s first time. She said she’s excited for her first trip to Africa and is looking forward to helping children.

“These kids have suffered so much loss and they all have HIV. [Seeds of Hope] are not only feeding them, but they are getting them educated and trying to get them to that place where they can be in society,” Patenaude said.

Harbo says she’s still receiving empty bottles on a regular basis and is thrilled with the response from community.

“It has been amazing,” she said.

Anyone wishing to donate empty bottles to Harbo can e-mail her at harbo@shaw.ca. Individuals can also donate to Harbo’s cause by going directly through Seeds of Hope organization, where they can receive a receipt. Donations must indicate that money is intended for the Nanaimo Team/November Team 2017.

For more information, call Seeds of Hope at 1-604-870-4810.

nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com