David Sprague and some of the gifts he helped put together this Christmas.

A whole new look at Christmas for Nelson man

It wasn’t long ago that David Sprague was on the receiving end of Nelson Salvation Army’s Christmas hamper program.

It wasn’t long ago that David Sprague was on the receiving end of Nelson Salvation Army’s Christmas hamper program.

But this year he was among the Salvation Army staff who helped get more than 300 hampers delivered to families and individuals who needed a little extra help getting food on the table and presents for the children.

“If you’re a single parent or living on a fixed income, it’s hard enough to pay your rent in Nelson, let alone pay for Christmas,” Sprague says.

He knows the difference a little compassion can make. Sprague was living in the Kerr Apartments when the building burned down two years ago, and he says the support he and other residents received following the disaster inspired him get his life on track.

“When I lived in the Kerr, all I cared about was getting wasted,” he recalls. “I’d be drinking as soon as I woke up in the morning until I passed out for the night. That was my daily routine.”

Because he spent most of his money on booze, he relied heavily on local food programs. Often he wouldn’t eat more than the one meal per day he could get for free.

“If I had money come in, I was more interested in going to the liquor store than the grocery store,” he says.

Besides his alcohol addiction, Sprague had health issues that kept him from working a steady job. Before the Kerr fire, he never would have thought of volunteering his time for the benefit of the community.

“It was after the fire, when I saw how generous the community had been to all of us, that I started thinking I should do something to give back,” he said.

He started helping out with the Salvation Army, ANKORS and the Nelson Committee on Homelessness, and met people who helped him on his path to sobriety.

“I couldn’t have done it on my own,” he said. “I needed a lot of support and encouragement to make that change.”

Sprague has been sober since February. Since he quit spending his money on alcohol, he can afford to keep food in his cupboards and doesn’t rely on food programs anymore.

In October, after months of volunteering, he was hired to work part-time at the Salvation Army as the food bank supervisor. He also does outreach through the Salvation Army to help hard-to-house people change their lifestyle to be better tenants. And he’s been out jingling bells next to a Christmas kettle.

“I want people to know what a difference their donations can make in somebody’s life,” he says. “I went from being a drain on society to realizing I had something to contribute. When I was ready to change, the Salvation Army was here for me.”

Sprague is currently a cadet in Salvation Army officer training and looking forward to many more years of service through the organization.

 

Just Posted

Kootenay Lake’s first marine waste pump-out opens

Sewage facility is located at the Prestige marina

1919: Nelson doctor drowns in Kootenay Lake saving child

And other news from a century ago in the Nelson Daily News

Lily Taylor, Levi Taylor win medals at Ogopogo Open

The local weightlifters were among seven Nelson athletes competing at the event

CHECK THIS OUT: Read B.C.! A roundup of books about our fair province

The Nelson Library’s Anne DeGrace gives us a B.C. Day book list

Nelson Leafs trade goalie Hunter Young to Rockies

Nelson will have an all-new duo between the pipes next season

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read