Vancouver Woman Spreads Holiday Cheer by Setting up a Street Store for the City's Homeless

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The holiday season is a time to give and Christina Wong is doing just that.

The SFU student has decided that instead of receiving gifts for her birthday, she would like to give back to the homeless of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside by setting up a ‘Street Store’ this coming Sunday.

Essentially, The Street Store is a free one-day pop-up clothing shop, where individuals living on the streets have the opportunity to find gently used clothing items, accessories and shoes that they want and like.

The Street Store concept is one that started in Cape Town, South Africa to bridge the gap between the “haves and the have-nots.” The idea gained international attention and the popularity of the Street Store has spread to cities all over the world.

Vancouver saw its first Street Store last April, where the organization Dozē set up shop and were able to provide over 600 pounds of donated clothing and accessories to those in need. Another Street Store was hosted in the city last November and over 1000 pieces of clothing and accessories were donated.

Christina hopes to repeat that success with her own Street Store.To date, she has already collected 1000 pieces of donated clothing.  She told Vancity Buzz that her strongest inspiration to get on board with The Street Store initiative stems for her passion to give back to the community.

By hosting the Street Store, she hopes to combat that negative stereotypes people often have about the homeless in that they are “lazy” or that homelessness is a choice. “We know nothing about the stories of [them], so who are we to judge?” she asks.

This is not Christina’s first time doing something for a greater cause. In 2012, she was the Vice President of World Vision UBC. The club won $5000 in a nation wide leadership competition and the money was donated to their sponsor children. The rewarding experience motivated Christina to continue her goals of reducing poverty and helping individuals who are underprivileged.

“I believe that any act of kindness, whether big or small can come a long way. As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person,” Christina explains.

She hopes to continue and hold more events like The Street Store for the homeless in the future. Her ultimate goal is to establish a workshop program where volunteers can do outreach work with homeless members of the community.

“Sometimes, it takes one open, meaningful conversation to put things into perspective for us.  This is one of my life goals, and I know that one day it will happen,” she says.

If you are interested in donating any gently used clothing items, accessories, or shoes to Christina’s Street Store, come by with your items and drop them off at 62 East Hastings Street, Vancouver (the rectangular lot), any time between 11 am and 5 pm this Sunday, December 21. It will be a great way to spread some holiday cheer to those in need.

Feature Image Via: The Street Store 

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Simran Singh is a Contributor at Vancity Buzz. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Journalism at the University of British Columbia. She is a big fan of coffee, writing and exploring Vancouver. Send a story idea her way at simran@vancitybuzz.com
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