As sure as Christmas approaches at the end of each year, so too will you find Calvin Rufus ringing a bell at the Salvation Army and wishing season’s greetings.
Typically, he splits up his volunteering based on the time of year.
“I do the Big Bike Ride in June,” he says.
There, he takes part in the ride for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He raises fund by getting businesses to pledge donations for his participation in the Big Bike Ride.
Then, in the latter part of the year, Calvin switches and moves over to work at the Salvation Army kettles, raising money to help vulnerable people in the community in the same way the organization helped him.
He is typically posted six days a week outside the Save-On-Foods in downtown Campbell River, where there is more foot traffic than at an original spot where he manned the kettle.
Calvin enjoys the social interaction he gets through his volunteering for the Salvation Army and for the Big Bike Ride.
“I get to meet old friends and the people I don’t see during the year,” he says, adding, “I make new friends.”
Calvin is originally from the Namgis First Nation, growing up in the Alert Bay area, but he has called the Campbell River area his home for almost 20 years now, and he’s gotten to know a lot of people.
“The people are great,” he says. “I’m practically meeting a new person every day.”
He started volunteering in the area by helping mostly with the clean-up the carving competition in Willow Point, and later started helping out with Fibre Fest, greeting visitors at the front door.
Along with volunteering, Calvin spends his time with activities like knitting and sewing, in the process making homemade items like handbags to give to people he knows.
He’s spent the last eight years or so devoting his time to both the Big Bike Ride and the Salvation Army. Along with being important causes, he says he chose these ones in part for another reason.
“They were close to home,” he says, adding it is not always easy for him to get around the community.
To anyone who thinks there is an organization out there they might like to help, Calvin offers a few choice words: “Just do it. Don’t think, just do it,” he says. “Life’s too short for shoulda, coulda, wouldas.”