Contributor: Jessica Brown-Gauthier

You’ve surely seen Johnny Blanchard walking the streets of Knowlton at some point or another. He is a very local fixture in the village and has been for as long as I can remember. He’s held down a number of odd jobs and recently retired from the Duck Farm. Now, his job, which he takes very seriously, is collecting cans.

“What are you doing with the money you collect, Johnny?” “I’m going to Italy!” he said with enthusiasm. He promptly pulled out a photocopy of Europe with an arrow pointing to the boot of Italy. “I’m going here. Next winter,” he said. With the help of his mentor, Bee Santori, who now spends a few months every winter in Italy, he’s been given the goal of collecting enough to pay for his trip. It all started with Johnny quitting smoking. He started saving all the money that he had been spending on cigarettes.

The original Instagram post created an incredible outpouring of support. A blue recycling bin at the Gym at 31 Lakeside has been put aside for cans just for Johnny. People have dropped off bags and bags full of cans and beer bottles – so much so that on sunny days, Johnny walks back and forth to the Depanneur Rouge several times. Inch by inch and can by can, he’s closer to reaching his goal. Your cans and bottles can be dropped off for Johnny beside the Gym building.