TikTok Thanksgiving: Concerned Byward Store Employee Makes a Difference

Instead of spending Thanksgiving Monday at her family’s beef farm in Douglas, Ont., Miranda Croakie distributed sandwiches, water and socks to the underprivileged of Byward.

Croakie headed downtown that evening armed with 75 burgers in search of Ziggy Haile, an employee of a local convenience store. Haile, who goes by @gangsterapou on Tik Tok, has a significant following for her videos documenting her interactions with customers at Zesty Market at the corner of Rideau and Dalhousie streets.

Croakie says she follows Haile on Tik Tok after admitting he filmed near Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital, where Croakie works as an X-ray technician.

“I still drive [through Byward] and I see overdoses happening all the time, ”said Croakie. “People just walk past these people like they don’t exist.”

Croakie said she contacted Haile through the app because she wanted to give back to the community for Thanksgiving. After meeting, they distributed food, water bottles and socks to those in need.

@gangsterapu

#motivation # convenience store # work # helping hands # love # homelessviesmatter

♬ original sound – Gangster APU

Croakie wasn’t the only person inspired by Haile’s videos. A woman showed up that evening with a platter of chicken and rice. Haile said another woman contacted him with 60 packets full of clothes, deodorant, hygiene products and juice to hand out.

“These packages literally cost $ 50 each,” Haile said. “She doesn’t even know me. She just saw the Tik Tok.

Often the people who walk into his store late at night are the ones who are not allowed at the Salvation Army’s Booth Center men’s hostel in Ottawa, Haile said.

@gangsterapu

#motivation #conveniencestore #helpinghands #homelesslifesmatter #thanksgiving #happythanksgiving #godisgood #godbless

♬ original sound – Gangster APU

While the hostel can accommodate up to 136 regular residents, the website states that residents should be “sober and relatively stable.”

The center’s third floor has 30 beds for people with mental health and addiction issues, and their fourth floor also houses up to 18 recovering residents.

The Salvation Army could not be reached for comment after several attempts.

Gordon Richards is the Community and Volunteer Services Program Manager at Shepherds of Hope, a non-profit group that also has a downtown shelter. The group runs an emergency transitional housing program for men and women suffering from trauma, addiction and mental health issues. Richards said many of those using the shelter are referred by the Ottawa Police Service or other emergency responders.

“We provide a safe space for people to sleep or eat while they are crossing or exiting no matter what,” said Richards. “It’s a busy schedule and there are a lot of needs.

While Richards noted that some people can be difficult to serve, he added that people with these issues have deep-rooted behavior and intoxication shouldn’t prevent people from getting the care they need. .

“What we can do as an organization is recognize that these harmful behaviors exist and try to make people as safe as possible,” said Richards. “And then continue to connect with them despite the drug use, despite the mental health issues. These are not barriers for us to provide services.

Haile says he hopes to show through social media how positivity and a genuine connection have improved his interactions with customers.

“When I start my shift at 11 pm, I see these people outside the door. »Said Hailé. “When I leave at 7 am, they are always out in the street. And they’re nicer than us.