How you can help market vendors on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside this Easter

Vancouver Courier

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“The folks down here don’t need Easter eggs, they need donations so that they can survive” Photo: iStock

Vancouverites are being challenged to help the city’s homeless and low income population this Easter by donating unwanted household items.

Four Directions Trading Post – formerly known as the Downtown Eastside Market – launched the ‘Tipi Challenge’ today to help provide vendors in the market community with more items to sell.

The Tipi Challenge is simple:

Step 1: Find four items to donate

Step 2: Challenge four friends to donate

Step 3: Deliver your items to the tipi at 62 East Hastings

Executive director of the market Constance Barnes said they chose to launch the challenge over the Easter long-weekend because “it is a time of renewal and people are spring cleaning.”

She said Easter was a hard time for the market community and the donations were desperately needed to help people get by.

“The folks down here don’t need Easter eggs, they need donations so that they can survive,” Barnes said.

“As fun as it would be to have Easter egg hunts … from the discussions we had with the vendors, that’s not what they need.

“They’re asking on a daily basis for donations so that they can sell products and make enough money to buy their medication or pay their rent or buy some meat or cheese over the weekend.”

She hoped people would take the time to have a look around their homes for unwanted items.

“We know people have excess. In the spirit of loving each other and being there for each other, have a look through your stuff. See if you can find four items.

“Four items isn’t a lot.”

The donations can be any household item, aside from furniture – including clothes, jewellery, kitchenware, shoes, books, ornaments, or towels.

She said vendors would have a choice of whether to keep a donated item for themselves or to sell it.

“If they see something they really need, then we’re not going to say no,” Barnes said.

“Many of these people are homeless or living in SRO’s, so our goal is to keep them comfortable and be there to assist them in anything that we possibly can.”

On weekdays between 65 to 70 vendors set up at the market at 62 East Hastings to try and sell their items. That number sometimes grows to 100.

On weekends it’s even busier, with up to 150 vendors filling the 58 West Hastings market location.

The giving challenge coincides with a soft launch of the rebranding of the Downtown Eastside market as Four Directions Trading Post, which will officially be launched later in the year.

Four Directions Trading Post
The new logo for Four Directions Trading Post. – Four Directions Trading Post

The new name was chosen by the market’s First Nations community.

Barnes said the goal was to eliminate the negative stigma associated with the market.

“The DTES name has such a negative energy and sounds depressing,” she said.

“It’s one of those things where so many people think the items at the market are all stolen.”

She encouraged people to come down to the market and meet the vendors before judging them.

“We would like more people to come down and meet our vendors, meet the seniors, meet the people with disabilities, and know that we are really working hard to make sure there are no stolen goods,” Barnes said.

“The one thing we need is for people to donate and that’s why we are starting the Tipi Challenge.”

Barnes is hoping the challenge will inspire an ongoing donation system.

She said the market was a social place for many of the vendors.

“While people may be struggling, we also want them to come into a comfortable and happy environment,” she said.

“It is a social place. A vendor may come in with only five or six items, that’s all they have, but they come in every single day because it is like a family.”

“It is one heck of a community.”

Donations can be dropped off at 62 East Hastings, Monday to Friday, or 58 West Hastings on weekends, from 9 am to 4:00 pm.

eseeber@vancourier.com / @elisiaseeber

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