A local Pastor and his wife have found some strange items on their daily walks picking up garbage.
"Last March, when the pandemic restrictions started to come, gyms were closed and so my wife and I decided we'd go for a walk. There was a lot of snow on the ground but it was beginning to melt and we noticed that there was a lot of trash that was finding its way to the top of the melting snow," says Rod Giesbrecht, Senior Pastor at Tabor Baptist Church.
What started out as a way to stay fit after gyms closed turned into a huge benefit for the community.
"We didn't like all that trash so the next time we went for a walk we grabbed a garbage bag to take with us and pick up those items we found as we were walking."
Giesbrecht and his wife Viola have continued picking up trash around Winnipeg since the pandemic started back in March of 2020, except for one hot week in the summer and the Christmas break.
"We bank between a minimum of 5-7 hours a week to pick up trash but most weeks it's a lot longer than that."
Giesbrecht's wife works during the days so she joins him when she can. Other times a congregant of his comes along.
"People are looking for ways to become involved, but when you can't really talk to anyone because of the isolation requirements, garbage is a good thing because when you're in a ditch picking up garbage, you're basically alone," he says.
By the middle of December 2020, Giesbrecht had picked up 18,500 lbs of garbage in bags, 5,000 lbs of bulky items that don't fit in a bag, and 3,000 lbs of recyclable items.
"On Friday of last week a Pastor called wanting to talk and I said I was going to pick up garbage and asked if he wanted to join me. We took another 300 lbs to Brady landfill and I don't know if he'll call me again," Giesbrecht jokingly says.
Giesbrecht has found some interesting items while picking up garbage.
"One thing you find almost every day is a glove or mitten. The most strange or peculiar thing we ever picked up was when we found two live bullets for a handgun. In April, I found half of a twenty-dollar bill in the snow. After sending it to the mint, they sent me half of a twenty-dollar bill, I got $10 in the mail, half a twenty."
In total, Giesbrecht has made roughly $100 by finding money on his ventures. However, he buys garbage pickers (he's gone through five at this point), almost 400 garbage bags, and pays for dump runs to the landfill for his 'hobby'.
"You know what, if you have a hobby of going to a football game, you're dropping $50 a ticket plus food. My hobby happens to be picking garbage."
While there has been some stigma around people who pick up garbage, for the most part, Giesbrecht says that people support him.
"I'll often have people honking their horns, cheering me on, yelling nice words to me. A number have asked me if I'm doing community service. But," he says laughing, "there are a lot of people who say I'm doing a good thing. I find it interesting that people follow a trash picker."
Giesbrecht has found a unique way to be the hands and feet of Jesus during the pandemic.
While talking to Giesbrecht, some people have gotten angry with all the trash lying around the city. To that, he simply says, "People are what they are but you can be the solution. Let's choose to control that which we can, ourselves."