For the second year, Robi Geary and Luis Galvan did what any person owning a large van and wanting to give back to their would do — filled it with food to give to the food bank.
As the founders of the annual “12 days of giving” campaign, the duo and their volunteers repurpose their moving van and gather donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
“We’re just trying to initiate something where people can see that anyone can help,” said Geary, 30. “We’ve got all the supplies, everything you need to accept donations.”
Galvan, 28, said the idea had been with the two East Vancouver residents for some time, and last year they decided to commit the time and dove in. Both Geary and Galvan noted they’ve had to use the food bank at some time in their lives.
“We live in the hood and not everybody is doing that well and it’s good to be able to help people that can’t help themselves,” said Galvan.
Last year, they gathered 3,000 pounds of food and $3,000 of donations for the Food Bank by keeping someone stationed at the truck, parked near the Gastown clock tower, 24 hours a day. The objective was they couldn’t go home until the truck was full — a learning experience for Geary.
“We stayed outdoors all day waiting for donations,” he said. “It was colourful during the week.”
This year, they took a slightly different approach, and manned the truck during the day only. However, they hoped the new truck location on Commercial Drive at Gravely Street close to grocery stores would help them get enough donations to fill the truck this year.
“We’d like to match what we did last year, or better. It’s not so much gathering the food. It’s getting the point across that hunger’s a serious problem we’re facing in this neighbourhood,” said Geary.
They only use the donation van to hold goods two weeks a year. The vehicle’s full-time job is with Geary and Galvan’s moving company, called Welcome to East Van, the same company that produces the iconic Vancouver street name T-shirts.
Their idea for “12 days of giving” was connected to their company philosophy of being part of the community.
“If it’s a company that’s representing our community, we want to represent in more ways than just the business side of things,” said Geary. “We try and help with our free time, whenever it is.”
This year, other community groups have banded together to help out as well, donating boxes to hold donations and another moving van.
Now making it an annual event, Geary and Galvan are hoping more people step in to help next year.
“It’s about the community helping each other,” said Geary. “Us, being out here, shouting on the corner and promoting it — if that can help, we try and do what we can.”