Dan Johnstone is better known by his nickname, Can Man Dan, and he just wrapped up the first leg of his Feed Alberta Tour outside of Southgate Centre.
Dan spent four chilly nights camped out in his big cargo truck where he would store the food donations. He says it was a good time, but not as good as he’d have liked.
“Well, it was a little bit disappointing, but I knew going in that the economy was rough and we didn’t quite make the goal that I wanted to, but it looks like the final numbers are about 16500 pounds of food and about $7000, and that’s all donated to the food bank.”
Dan says the food and money that he collected on the first leg should have the shelves at the food bank groaning for a little while, he’s just glad he doesn’t have to sort it all.
“It’s going to take them at least a week assuming they have the volunteers. There’s a lot of different types of food in there, we got cereal, we got chips, we got soups and meat and all sorts of things. So, they’re going to be there for a while. I’m thankful that I don’t have to be. I do all the hard work outside.”
He’s taking a couple days to warm up and recuperate before heading to Calgary and from there on to Lethbridge before coming home where he’ll spend another four days in the back of his truck, this time outside the Sobeys off 111st and Ellerslie. You’ll find him there from December 22nd until Christmas Eve.
Dan’s been doing this now for six years and he says he’s starting to feel the wear and tear.
“When I was many many years younger I was jumping out of the truck and I was never tired, I was never cold, but now, because I’m getting older I’m like, oh my goodness! My knees are sore, I’ve got bags under my eyes. Just being a big ol’ baby I guess.”
When Dan was a child he grew up with a brother and a mom who worked two jobs, but still needed to lean on the food bank in order to make ends meet. Once Dan got through post secondary and landed a good job he knew it was time to give back.
“So I started the Can Man Dan initiative, and the whole goal is just to make sure that some other kid, like I was previously, gets to have something to eat, and to keep the cycle going, you know?”
He’s not in it for a legacy, or to start a movement, but he does hope that someone will take the tinned torch off his hands one day.
“I’m just a guy who goes out, I’m a regular Joe, I’m a construction worker, and I go out and try to make a difference. I mean, anyone can do what I can, literally. You just have to have some crazy ideas, a little bit of hard work and a heart that’s in the right place. If I can inspire one person in the six years I’ve been doing this I think that’s a big success.”
Dan’s pretty sure, when the time is right someone will step into the Can Man role, and he says, will “probably do an even better job of it.”