As Trail Market on the Esplanade launches its second run today, visitors may notice a bright red wagon being pulled through the outdoor venue by a set of hands ready to unburden guests of their heavy loads and wheel their shopping bags to the car.
Helping Hands is a new service being offered to the community by the Trail Association for Community Living (TACL) during the market days, with the motto, “flag us down, we will lend a hand.”
Last year, TACL ran a popcorn booth during a couple market days, but this year the team was ready to step further into promoting the agency and the people within it.
“We just kind of realized that we needed to do something different,” explained Gail Miller, TACL’s community living manager. “One of our staff said what about helping hands and taking stuff to cars because that’s where I always run into a problem.”
From there, the team talked with its community members, and with everyone in agreement that helping would be a fun thing to do, the initiative rolled forward during the market’s opening day June 6.
“It’s a way for us to give back to our communities and also to really showcase how capable our folks are,” said Miller. “And we can use it as a way to evaluate their interactions with the community in a largely crowded and noisy environment.”
Many of TACL’s clients are actively seeking work, and Miller maintains,”you never know when there could be a prospective employer out there.”
Kim Saplywi was first at the wagon’s helm and said he enjoyed meeting and helping people to their cars, and the experience was so much fun he’s ready to do it again.
“I had my turn last time but it was so much fun that I’m looking forward to doing it again,” he added.
The service is free-of-charge although donations are never turned down, chuckled Miller.
“We are giving back to the community,” she said. “A lot of people think that anyone with a disability isn’t capable.
“So we are also here to show how well our folks work and how very capable they are.”
TACL runs a number of programs in Greater Trail that connects people with barriers to employment or recreational activities.
The association received the highest level of accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities earlier this year, for the organization’s substantial conformance to the non-profit body’s standards.
“I thought it was a nice touch having the Helping Hands crew on site to help folks get their purchases to the car,” said Norm Casler from the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce. “Some people such as seniors may be hesitant to purchase too much because it’s hard carrying all that great product and what have you,” he continued. “The Helping Hands crew took care of that and they had a lot of fun helping too.”
The market is expecting 53 vendors during the second round, up 10 from two weeks ago. The newest food vendor is Rustic Crust Pizza, who along with the Local 480 selling burgers, will be joined by Wicked Southern BBQ and Ray’s Greek Food.
For information about Helping Hands, contact TACL at 368.3503.