Derek Pickford has been raising money and giving back to the communities he's lived and worked in for as long as he remembers.

"Any project you're working on in communities, you're staying in people's houses, you're going to hotels and restaurants and you're supporting local activities. Giving back is just another way to show appreciation and be welcomed in another town," Pickford states.

Those communities are currently Kamloops and Merritt, as Pickford has been working on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project as part of the Surerus Murphy Joint Venture (SMJV) crew since July 2020.

Derek works as a yard maintenance operator by day and raises tens of thousands of dollars for people and organizations in need by night. He does this through licensed 50/50 fundraiser draws supported by SMJV and Trans Mountain employees and contractors, along with taking back the work site's recycling.

Recently, Pickford made the news for his philanthropic efforts when he helped kick start a young duo's lemonade stand fundraiser for the Walk for Alzheimer's. On his way home from work, he stopped for a glass of lemonade and was so impressed by the young people’s efforts, he donated $500 of the recycling funds with a promise to bring back more customers.

With SMJV leadership support, Derek made flyers, set up COVID-19 protocols and wrangled 120 of the crew to visit the stand where they purchased more than $5,000 worth of lemonade!

This is just one small example of the community-giving effort Derek and SMJV have been a part of.

Since starting work on the Expansion Project, SMJV and its crew have donated more than $210,000 to Kamloops and surrounding communities. Almost 80 per cent of that money has been employee-led fundraising.

The crew's generosity has helped more than 35 community organizations, like the Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way, A Way Home Kamloops, the Royal Canadian Legion, ASK Wellness, the Kamloops SPCA, PIT Stop, and the Merritt and Kamloops Food Banks.

Derek says, “It’s not always about the money, it’s showing people that you care.”

The SMJV crew showed how much they cared when a young Kamloops girl needed a kidney transplant. Not only did the crew donate, they sent more than 30 pictures with their hands in the shape of a heart in her honour.

Derek's passion is giving back and putting smiles on people's faces, and he does this with the backing of his crew.

"Everyone is so supportive. The credit goes to my co-workers, they're behind this 110 per cent, and they always have been."