Christmas looked very different this year but we still wanted to spread joy for newcomer families and populations experiencing homelessness.
At the beginning of the month, we invited volunteers to participate in this year’s Street Store by donating gently-used clothing.
On December 15, we dropped off care kits at the Mount Pleasant Family Centre Society for newly arrived refugee families. The staff safely distributed these care kits to share some love this Christmas season.
Our annual Christmas care kit distribution was made possible this year thanks to all the generous hearts of the Gen3 Focolare Movement families. We were able to drop off these care kits at the Door is Open for the staff to distribute safely to those in the Downtown Eastside.
Christmas dinner was served at the new location of the Men’s Hostel (near St. Paul’s Hospital). We prepared sweet and sour pork, fried rice, Caesar salad, and chocolate chip cookies. Assorted pastries were also donated by COBS Bread (Blundell Location).
For Remembrance Day, we honoured our dear veterans. Our volunteers safely packed cookies for the veterans at the George Derby Centre.
In honour of St. Leo The Great’s Feast Day and Remembrance Day, we served dinner at the Men’s Hostel. We prepared chicken teriyaki on rice pilaf, Caesar salad, and chocolate oatmeal cookies. Assorted pastries were also donated by COBS Bread (Blundell location).
In honour of the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, we delivered meals and assorted pastries (donated by COBS Bread Blundell Location) for the residents of the Men’s Hostel.
With the support of our volunteers and their families, the Care to Connect team won $5000 from the “Push for Change Foundation” for our Promise Project raising awareness on youth homelessness. Our team of five young adults decided to donate all our winnings to our charity of choice, “Covenant House”, to further their programs for at-risk youth.
For the Feast Day of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we served a warm meal at the Men’s Hostel. We’re happy to help these men go to bed with a full stomach. “We serve life not because it is broken, but because it is holy.” – Mother Teresa
We were invited and interviewed by Salt + Light Media in Toronto to be featured in their “In All Things” television series. We were so blessed to share our story in one of their episodes. Click here to listen.
On top of this, we received a donation from one of our major donors, COBS Bread (Blundell location), after dedicating the month of March to raise funds for The Giving Truck.
We spent St. Augustine’s Feast Day at the Men’s Hostel, preparing warm individually packed meals.
We were interviewed in an international podcast hosted by youth across the border in Mexicali and California to share how The Giving Truck can help inspire other teens in North America. Click here if you’d like to listen to “Raisa & Renai Jose: A Story of Giving”.
We also celebrated the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola by serving meals to the residents of the Men’s Hostel.
For Father’s Day, we packed spring mix salad with raspberry vinaigrette, chicken teriyaki on stir fried cabbage with parboiled rice, and a chocolate chip cookie for each resident at the Men’s Hostel.
With a team, we created “Care to Connect”, a project that raises awareness on youth homelessness and focuses on family bonding. Weekly challenges include baking and cooking together, striking a pose for a family photoshoot and competing in a paper airplane competition. Families that participated sent in photos and videos and were featured on our social media platforms.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Giving Truck took action in the Downtown Eastside at the Men’s Hostel. Individually packed hot meals were served to the residents at the facility to celebrate Easter with joy.
COBS Bread graciously dedicated the whole month of March to raise funds for The Giving Truck. On April 4th, for every 6-pack of Hot Cross Buns sold at the Blundell location, $2 was donated to The Giving Truck as they shared goodness on “Doughnation Day” to continue our monthly projects.
On February 22, The Giving Truck was invited to hold a booth at the Volunteer Fair at the One World One Heart Conference. This was our second year sharing our mission with the youth.
Our volunteers had loads of fun at Richmond Family Place for the “Eating Together” event. We got the chance to spend time with families and serve breakfast for everyone who attended.
On January 3, we dropped off clothing donations from our clothing drive in December at Richmond Family Place and also to the Canadian Diabetes Association.
The Giving Truck also got the chance to visit Atira’s Sorella Housing for Women. Volunteers collected and dropped off the clothing donations and had an exclusive tour of the facility.
In December, we hosted a clothing drive at Corpus Christi College. All clothing donations were given to those in the Downtown Eastside.
St. Paul’s Elementary School in Richmond, BC collaborated with The Giving Truck for our main Christmas project. Each grade donated either toothbrushes, toothpaste, bars of soap, pairs of socks, combs, shampoo, gloves/mittens, sanitary pads, or diapers for refugee families.
These items were put into care kits which were assembled by the LifeTeen youth ministry. Volunteers dropped the care kits off at the Mount Pleasant Family Centre for the Circles of Care and Connection/Early Years Refugee Program. The families were so lovely to meet!
Just a couple of days before Christmas, we partnered with Park’N Fly Canada (Vancouver) to make care kits for the homeless in the Downtown Eastside. Over 100 care kits were distributed by our volunteers. Pastries were donated by COBS Bread (Blundell location) and extra items were sponsored by Dollar Smart. This event would not be possible without the help of our amazing sponsors and donors. You don’t know the impact you have made on the lives of the men and women in the Downtown Eastside.
We honoured the veterans on Remembrance Day as we welcomed guests, sold art made by veterans, and assisted in many more activities at the George Derby Centre in Burnaby, BC.
Little Flower Academy partnered with The Giving Truck making sandwiches for those at the Powell Street Getaway Resource Centre in the Downtown Eastside. More volunteers helped distribute the sandwiches and pastries at the facility afterwards.
On August 10th, The Giving Truck hosted its very first Shoreline Cleanup at Jericho Beach. We’re passionate about keeping our planet clean and beautiful for all of us to enjoy!
Our volunteers helped make soup and sandwiches at Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church. They also set up and served dinner at the Catholic Charities Men’s Hostel. The men were very grateful.
A two day yoga fundraiser for anyone and everyone! We happily partnered with “Bliss Out Yoga” to lead 45 minute yoga sessions.
All proceeds went towards our “Dinner & Music” event at the Catholic Charities Men’s Hostel on June 22nd where we served soup and sandwiches.
Renai and I also had the chance to speak about The Giving Truck at the “Couples for Christ (CFC)” Annual Youth Power Conference in Surrey, BC. It was amazing to see the youth so eager to learn more about how they can make a difference in their community.
One World One Heart is a social justice conference led by students from Little Flower Academy and Vancouver College. This year, The Giving Truck was asked to lead a session and be included as the guest speakers. At this event, we asked attendees to pack care kits and write cards for the mothers at Union Gospel Mission on Mother’s Day.
On Monday, May 13th, we distributed these care kits and treated the women for a “Spa Day” and pampered them with the help of volunteers from Blanche MacDonald – Canada’s number one makeup, fashion, and beauty school. Anna V Alan sponsored her makeup line to be used on the day of as well as a makeup kit for the women to take home in their care kits as well.
I was invited to speak to a Grade 4 class about The Giving Truck and share ways how they can give back to their community. The students were so inspired that they wanted to host a toy drive at their school. For Easter, the students brought more than two toys each and donated them to the children at Atira: Women’s Resource Society. Along with the toys, the children received Easter eggs decorated and written by the Grade 4 students.
For March, we hosted a Krispy Kreme fundraiser at Corpus Christi College on the UBC campus. We sold more than 85 boxes and all the proceeds went to our “Soup and Sandwich Lunch” at the Lookout Society in Surrey, BC. Volunteers made sandwiches for the homeless and those in modular housing who experience substance abuse or mental illness.
On February 16th, we also visited Rosewood Manor, a senior living facility, where many happy volunteers serenaded the old folks with love songs and praise hymns for Valentine’s Day. The Grades 1 & 2 classes from St. Paul’s School made handwritten Valentine cards for the seniors. We also packed some chocolates for them to enjoy. The initiative was a success!
On December 10, 2018, students at Little Flower Academy came out to help out with our pilot activity. As the school day ended, Renai and I were surprised as more than sixty high school students flooded into the dining hall to help assemble the “care kits” with the items, place the care kits in The Giving Truck vehicle, and write messages such as “You are loved” and “You are valued” on the water bottles. Volunteers were able to pack 100 black eco-bags filled with a pair of gloves, socks, some toiletries, food and other supplies to help keep many hearts and bodies warm.
I wanted the girls to realize that this activity shouldn’t just be during Christmas, but rather to continue the virtue of giving throughout the year. It was this event that urged me to do an activity every month. I spent January planning and coordinating with different facilities and services to reach to more people and get more youth involved in various communities.