Vietnamese-Canadian woman collects trash, saves lives

By Sen   October 22, 2018 | 07:09 am PT
For 21 years, Gia Tran has been depositing bottles and cans in Vancouver to support the fight against cancer.

It would not be a regular weekday at the B.C Cancer Foundation Office in Vancouver without Gia Tran’s visit, a CBC News report said.

Last Friday, she donated a $10 bill and a toonie, a Canadian two-dollar coin. In return, she received a handwritten receipt, some kind words and friendly smiles.

The 62-year-old woman visits the foundation almost every weekday to make a small donation.

"It's always the same," said Dianne Parker, the receptionist at the foundation's office. "She comes in with a big smile and she always says, 'I love everybody here, and I want to help people.'"

B.C Cancer Foundation in Canada has been the lucky beneficiary of Gia Tran for more than two decades. Photo courtesy of B.C Cancer Foundation

The B.C Cancer Foundation in Canada has been the beneficiary of Gia Tran’s donations for more than two decades. Photo courtesy of B.C Cancer Foundation

Gia Tran has been depositing cans and bottles for the last 21 years and gives away the refunds for charity. The foundation’s system only has records of donations she’s made going back 10 years, but her contribution has been about $15,000, the staff estimate.

Her kids advise her not to go outside in the cold, but Tran doesn’t listen. “No, I go. I want to help people. I want to go to the hospital – cancer. I help people.”

Hot weather works better for Tran’s collection campaign as more people spend time outdoors drinking.

Cans are better for her as they are not as heavy as glass bottles.

After she feels she has collected enough cans and bottles, Tran walks to the returns depot with the bags. She can take the bus but it is not always easy for her, as the driver does not allow heavy loads.

“On the bus I only get one bag, not two bags. I walk. I don’t care.”

Once she is done at the depot, she takes the bus or goes to the foundation’s office on foot. A one-way trip usually takes her 45 minutes, but the trip can last 90 minutes on winter days.

Sarah Roth, chief executive of the B.C Cancer Foundation, said she is delighted by Tran’s daily presence and so is everyone else.

“She is like the joy of our day when she comes, absolutely,” Roth said, adding Tran’s visits generate a positive vibe in the whole office.

Gia Tran, a Canadian citizen, according to The Guardian, can’t really explain why she chose the B.C. Cancer Foundation as the beneficiary of her altruistic drive.

She says: “I don’t know why. People happy, I’m happy too.”

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