An exciting new community initiative is in the works for the Helping Hands Society of Cochrane and Area.

Last month the local non-profit received a generous $25,000 donation from Home Treasures to help get the ball rolling on the surprise project.

Now the wait is over, and Helping Hands Executive Director Chairra Nicolle is excited to share the details on their latest endeavour.

"What we are in the process of fundraising for is a cargo van for our moving program and also our food rescue program," explains Nicolle. "This came out of when the rental company in town left in the summertime and our clients no longer had an opportunity to rent a vehicle for a low cost."

For months now residents who depend on assistance from Helping Hands have had to venture to Calgary to rent a moving van, and the cost associated with the extra mileage isn't always feasible.

Nicolle says that investing in a cargo van will actually be a win-win-win; filling multiple community needs for several organizations.

"It's going to go towards supporting Big Hill Haven [since] we help them with their moves," explains Nicolle. "Cochrane Society for Housing Options as well as Home Treasures. Home Treasures was actually using U-Haul to pick up donations so since U-Haul left the community Home Treasures has been directing them to us since we are the only ones with a volunteer moving program."

The volunteer program 'Movers With Heart' assists area residents who need to move but don't have the financial resources to do so. Nicolle says the van will also help to pick up food donations and transport them to the current free food shed located in the parking lot of St. Andrew's United Church as well as the soon-to-be second location at the Bow Valley Baptist Church.

She says that the $25,000 donation from Home Treasures will go a long way towards helping them achieve their end goal, but they still have a long way to go.

"For a cargo van with a high roof -- because we need one with a high roof to fit a queen-sized mattress or a dresser inside it. We're going to need to fundraise quite a bit more to pay for the remainder of the vehicle, insurance, cover our maintenance and winter tires," explains Nicolle.

There are a couple of different ways to connect with Helping Hands and help to make this next project a reality. Donations can be made on the Helping Hands website and funds raised from the annual Coldest Night of the Year initiative will also go towards purchasing the Helping Hands moving van.

The Coldest Night of the Year is scheduled for February 26, 2022 and the crew at Helping Hands is hopeful for an in-person event this year.