Food hampers and haircuts: Can Man Dan helps hundreds in Edmonton

Can Man Dan's 'We're Here for Ya Day' kicked off Sunday morning at Shadified Salon Spa in north Edmonton. Some 400 food hampers lay along the sidewalk ready to be given to families in need. Morris Gamblin, Global News

Dan Johnstone, also known as Can Man Dan, was doing what he does best Sunday, helping those in need.

For the fourth year in a row, the Edmonton anti-poverty activist hosted We’re Here For Ya Day.

“It’s been a very tough year for Albertans and Edmontonians with the recession, so we’re just doing what we can to take some of the burden off people in need,” Johnstone said.

About 500 low-income residents received a food hamper filled with 25 items, bread, a box of cereal, hair products, as well as a barbecue lunch.

“When a family comes down, everyone gets one. So if a family of three comes down, everyone gets a box- that’s 75 items,” Johnstone said.

The event we held at the Shadified Hair Salon in north Edmonton between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

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By 3 p.m., additional hampers needed to be made.

“Whatever we’ve got, we give it out to people in need,” Johnstone said.

Shadified Salon Spa offered hundreds of free haircuts as part of We’re Here For Ya Day. Morris Gamblin, Global News

This year, Johnstone partnered with Shadified Hair Salon to offer free haircuts.

“It’s a community-based event for the community, so it needs the community coming together to keep this thing going and this year, I have great partners and we all came together- we’re just helping people in need,” he said.

The event coincides with back-to-school and what Johnstone calls a “busy and expensive time of year for families.”

Several other sponsors helped fill the hampers and make the day possible.

The event also served as a collection drive for the Edmonton Food Bank which provides food hampers for about 20,000 people every month.

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“Everyone is incredibly grateful,” Johnstone said. “It’s a non-judgmental environment, they can come down and get help.”

Morris Gamblin, Global News

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