October 21, 2020

At 6 p.m. on Sept. 19, a handful of Lowe’s employees and volunteers began pulling the carts left in the corrals into the store. A fairly large transport truck sat in the lot with no trailer; wooden pallets placed in front of it. There were speakers sitting on the truck’s back, and the entire parking lot on the right looks like a ghost town. 

The cars in the left parking lot are customers coming in and out of the store. Some customers are confused by this phenomenon, but there are others that know: the Lowe’s charity drive-in is tonight.

The event was organized to raise money for a charity called KidsAbility, a group that helps children with disabilities feel more involved in their community via programs and services. That night alone, Lowe’s was able to raise $800; admission into the drive-in was free. The money was received either from purchased food and drink and/or the fifty-fifty raffle.

Lowe’s has a program called Lowe’s Heroes where every store in Canada raises money for non-profit organizations. They were already raising money at the tills in their store, but a similar charity event held at Lowe’s in the United States gave inspiration to a more interactive charity event.

The truck was not the only vehicle that needed to be prepped that night. A BeaverTails food truck was also being prepared before visitors arrived. Jason Malcho, an assistant store manager at Lowe’s, said that 10 per cent of BeaverTails’ proceeds would be donated to KidsAbility. 

There was also the Lowe’s Snack Bar, or “Snack Shack”, as people liked to call it. There one could buy a variety of pop, chips, and candies for a dollar and glow sticks for two. Most of the food and drink products were donated by Zehrs, which is located nearby. One of the popular items from the Snack Shack were Chocolate Barr’s Mintie Bars, a chocolate bar Malcho ordered from Stratford, Ont. 

The shack was being run with the help of Malcho’s wife and children and some volunteers, such as Brooklyn Farren, a high school student who supports the charity 

“I feel like this was a good charity to donate to because some [kids with disabilities] don’t get recognized and they can’t get jobs,” Farren said. “I feel like it’s good to help them out.” 

By 8 p.m., the truck was adorned with a tarp. A projector was held behind it with pallets. The movies that were playing that night were the newest Jumanji movies. The movies were picked ahead of time, and put on their fliers so that visitors would know what they were in for beforehand.

There were some technical issues– the station was only producing static, but the speakers on the truck were loud enough for people to hear within their cars. 

At intermission, a raffle was held. Numbers flashed on the screen, and the lucky winners strode to the Snack Shack to see what they had won. Thanks to companies like Staples and Montana’s– businesses also located fairly close to the store– prizes like a wine cooler and gift cards were given out. The grand prize was $400, half of the proceeds they made that night, but no one had claimed it, meaning that Lowe’s could donate all $800. 

Lowe’s made sure to keep this event safe during these pandemic times. People had to wear masks if they were going to leave their cars and/or if they were purchasing at either of the vendors. Every visitor had to park in every other parking spot. 

Malcho and the store manager, Summet Sindwani, wanted to craft an experience that would not only raise money for an important cause, but to relieve people’s minds of the pandemic and any other stress. 

“I would recommend this to friends and family so that they could have fun and donate to a charity and be more involved,” Farren said.

Malcho, who made the event come to life in the first place, was initially nervous, but also proud of the outcome. 

“I think people are reacting pretty good to it. People seem to be out there having fun.” He said. “Hopefully we’ll hear some feedback: good or bad, and what we can do to make it better next year.” 

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