Alaska Hank

This is how the world should be.

About a year and a half ago I was browsing Craigslist’s ‘free stuff’ section, and I saw an ad for Alaska Hank. Alaska Hank had a really cool project going on. He was collecting recyclable material – mostly bottles and cans – in order to raise enough money to buy a ticket for a cruise to Alaska, a life-long dream of his. It was a very ambitious project, certainly novel, and it had an admirable social and environmental component too. At the time, I had a fairly large pile of bottles and cans growing in my kitchen, and I didn’t particularly revel in the notion of cleaning, sorting, and transporting them all to the depot for a few lousy bucks. So I called up Alaska Hank, thinking if nothing else, he’d be doing me a favour carting away this mess.

Hanks Van

Hank showed up in a bitchin’ van, branded with his website and slogan. He had to have been the nicest guy I’ve ever met, and I know some pretty friendly dudes. Alaska Hank is a man who knows what life is about. He’s an older guy, retired, but the enthusiasm he showed for his project and for the goal he was working toward was rare and impressive. It was really clear that meeting people, helping them out, and working towards a goal were just as important to Hank as was the goal itself. After helping him load up his van, I wished Hank all the best with his fundraising and the eventual cruise, and he went on his way.

I got periodic updates from Hank via an email newsletter. The recycling effort went well, Global and CTV ran segments on him and his project, and sure enough he hit his goal and got his cruise not long after.

That was a year ago, almost exactly. I haven’t thought about Hank much since then, but the other day I was looking at the pile of bottles and cans in my kitchen. It was getting fairly large, and I didn’t particularly revel in the notion of cleaning, sorting, and transporting them all to the depot for a few lousy bucks. So I looked up Hank’s website, wondering if he had another trip he was saving up for. Turns out he never stopped collecting recyclables, but now all the money raised was going to Christmas gifts for the children’s wards at local hospitals, and to food and clothing charities for the homeless of Vancouver. What a guy!

He just left with my load of beer bottles and pop cans. I suspect that he actually made a special trip from North Vancouver just for me, because I had asked if he could come before the weekend, not realizing he makes regular trips on Mondays. He is as clearly committed to this charity work as he was to the original cruise project – probably even more so. Alaska Hank is a hell of a guy. I hope I can find the sort of meaningful personal fulfillment he has when I’m at his age; really, at any age. That’s how the world should be.

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~ by jbrydle on August 14, 2009.

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