A devotee of the Salvation Army since his early 20s Ken Depena, now 82, is the quintessential soldier. Having chosen collecting as his ministry, he has spent over half a century trawling the establishments of the inner city with his little wooden box, raising money for the Army's good work.
Transferred from suburbia to the Kings Cross corps as a chaste young man, he has circulated in Sydney's wildest area for most of his adult life brushing uniformed shoulders with the drug addicts, prostitutes and transvestites that make the area notorious. It was all in God's plan for him.
These days Ken's march is more of a shuffle, but his dedication to the cause is as fiery as ever. Indeed his old world philosophy of hard labour and abstinence clashes dramatically with the daily reality of the wayward teens of the Salvos Youth refuge, where he volunteers every day.