The Giving Truck

July 1, 2021 - 9:33am -- Living City

The Giving Truck 

Two young women connect volunteers to those in need

It all started as a small Christmas project back in 2018. My younger sister, Renai, and I thought about giving something to those living without shelter in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. We wanted to offer a small gesture of love, thinking that perhaps by offering a little gift, it might simply make someone’s day special.

Along with about 60 high school students, we prepared over 100 care kits filled with items such as toiletries, scarves, hats, gloves and lots more. 

We recognized the passion of youth and their urgency to continue to help the vulnerable in our community. As a result, we realized that we shouldn’t wait for Christmas 2019; giving should be all year long. 

That’s when we decided to do something every month. In February, for example, we thought of making Valentine’s Day cards for our dear seniors at multiple care homes. We have also distributed care kits to refugee families, made cards and packed treats for veterans for Remembrance Day, served warm meals at homeless shelters, hosted a spa day for the women at Union Gospel Mission, and organized a shoreline cleanup.

Due to the pandemic, we transitioned to doing activities safely from home. My sister and I would collect donations from volunteers’ homes and deliver them to different facilities in need. 

Even during the pandemic, we had an overwhelming response from youth who wanted to volunteer and find ways to service those in our communities. Eventually, we thought of using our family’s 12-seater van: it became our transportation vehicle for material donations and our volunteers. We called it “The Giving Truck.”

Since then, The Giving Truck became a movement. We now have an ambassador program that offers activities for youth to take part in and lead all over the Lower Mainland. 

We connect young people with various local organizations looking for volunteers. We recently collaborated with Covenant House, a facility that provides shelter for youth facing homelessness. We had a “Sleep-Out” event where we all experienced the harsh conditions of sleeping on the street, while listening to speakers on the subject of homelessness.

The pandemic has made the need for service evident. Our mission continues to grow, trying to do our part to serve those in need.   

Raisa and Renai Jose, Vancouver