Escanaba business receives overwhelming amount of cans for homeless, Salvation Army steps in

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Matt Marenger, owner of Mr. Bike Ski and Fitness shop in Escanaba, shakes hands with Major Alex Norton of the Escanaba Salvation Army.
Photo courtesy of Matt Marenger.

ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – Matt Marenger, the owner of Mr. Bike Ski and Fitness shop, just wanted to help out some homeless friends of his. He posted on Facebook that he was starting a can drive, and in the first month they accumulated over 100,000 cans.

“I have some friends of mine who live in the woods in old train cars and stuff like that, and they need some help. Then I thought I could raise two or three hundred bucks and give these guys a few grocery gift cards or something,” said Marenger. “So when it blew up I realized that it was going to be beyond my ability to disperse the funds, and it was getting so busy. We couldn’t keep up. We were hauling out behind Mr. Bike to two truck and trailer fulls every single day for weeks on end.”

So many cans were being donated, space was quickly running out to store the hundreds of bags. Beauchamp Mini-Storage let Marenger borrow some storage units to store the cans. Local grocery store, Sav-Mor Express, also helped out by contacting distributors to pick up the cans and return them in bulk.

When Margener realized that this is probably more cans than he could handle, he reached out to the Salvation Army in Escanaba for help.

“As of Monday, Memorial Day, they have taken it on as a permanent fundraiser for their outreach. They will help go toward the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen, as well as something called Hope at the Inn, which is a group of about 12 churches that house homeless people on a weekly rotation in the winter months. Nine cents out of every can goes directly to the person in need,” said Marenger.

By the end of the summer, they expect 250,000 cans to be donated.

If you are interested in dropping off Michigan’s returnable cans, you can bring them to the Salvation Army in Escanaba. It is being asked that they are dropped off during daylight hours, in large plastic bags, and tied tightly at the tops.

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