Kamloops restaurant building custom shopping cart for homeless friend

By Chad Klassen
September 12, 2017 - 5:45pm

KAMLOOPS — The local restaurant that's rallied behind a Kamloops homeless person says his new custom-built shopping cart could be finished and unveiled as early as next week. 

Elie Hannah, the owner of Frenchies Poutinerie downtown, has been talking with contractors, who have already started building the cart. 

"Something for Michael that fits his every day needs and just makes his life a bit easier," said Hannah. 

Hannah has stepped in to help after hearing the Kamloops RCMP could be taking Michael O'Shea's cart away. After complaints from businesses about too many of their carts going missing, the police has been stepping up enforcement this summer to get them back. 

"We've surveyed many of the businesses in Kamloops who have shopping carts, and they said they are suffering a financial loss due to the loss of their shopping cart. Also, their customers are inconvenienced because there aren't enough shopping carts because they're being stolen on a regular basis," said Cpl. Jodi Shelkie. 

Thirty-three shopping carts have been seized between July and September by RCMP. Hannah is being proactive before O'Shea's cart is taken. Both have built a close relationship over the years. 

"First time I met him, I was downtown. I was stressed about something, probably school because I was in school," remembers Hannah. "He walked by and said to me 'oh, don't stress out too much. Don't take it too seriously because we're all going to end up in the same place, so remember to take a step back.' Since then, every time I see him, I've been talking to him and hanging out."

Hannah says O'Shea comes by every couple days and they have poutine together. So far, the restaurant has collected nearly $2,000, donating all his sales from Sunday to raise most of the funds. Other people have come in to donate as well. 
 
"I used my business as leverage to be able to get the fan base that I have to get people together, and it worked out well," said Hannah. "I was able to get the story out about who Michael is, then the rest did itself. The community knew exactly who he was, then everyone just started talking about Michael, sharing stories about him, and it just got bigger. It just shows that he's important to people."

But it's not just O'Shea this money will help. Whatever funds aren't used towards the custom-built cart will help others on the street. 

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