Timothy Garces and some friends drove to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, with 100 sandwiches, juice boxes and oranges in tow.
Garces, from Surrey, is behind The Hands That Feed, an initiative that hopes to make it easy for anyone to help out the less fortunate.
A street person, who identified himself as Ian, approached the plastic table where Garces and his volunteers set up the food recently.
"You guys are the ones who hand out the peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, right?" Ian asked with a grin.
Ian said it was his fourth or fifth time being fed by the group. He said he's a single man on welfare, living month to month, and he often runs out of money between cheques.
"Without guys like these, I would probably go without food. People really appreciate what they're doing," Ian said.
Within 15 minutes, the 100 sandwiches, juice boxes and oranges were gone, all handed out to the less fortunate at the intersection of Main and Hastings in Vancouver.
Handing out sandwiches is something Garces has done, with help from others, every weekend since last fall. It all began when Garces, who runs a soup kitchen for the Enspire Foundation once a month in Vancouver, noticed a lot of his friends wanting to get involved.
With only a few spots available at the soup kitchen, he decided to start his own initiative on the side to enable anyone to help.
He goes to a person's home on a weekend, where they make 100 sandwiches together. Garces acquires supplies from a variety of sources - some from contacts who donate things such as bread and some he picks up out of his own pocket.
Garces asks the people helping to pick up juice boxes and fruit, or other snacks.
Then later in the weekend, the street team, which usually consists of four to five people, meets in Vancouver to distribute the food.
Garces lets people decide if they want to make sandwiches, distribute the food, or do both.
"Basically, I'm targeting those who want to help out but really just don't know where to go. I want to be that bridge," Garces said. "I'm just a regular person like them, I just so happen to get together groups every weekend and feed the homeless."
He said he chose the Downtown Eastside because he has found it's the most impactful, whereas in Surrey, the need isn't quite as high.
Garces said a lot of families have expressed interest in what he's doing. Probably, he said, because it teaches children valuable lessons.
"I want to try to teach the kids that everybody has a story behind them so just because you see somebody on downtown Hastings, that doesn't mean they're a crack addict, that doesn't mean they're just homeless, there's always a story behind them. But regardless of what their story is, people need to eat," he said.
Garces said The Hands That Feed started out with his friends and family participating, but is expanding outside his network now.
"It's definitely turned a lot of heads. I'm just noticing I'm getting a lot busier."
He is in the process of registering his initiative, which will allow him to collect monetary donations.
"But in terms of food donations, people are offering me food all the time. It's growing."
Joshua McLeod, 11, along with friends and family helped make sandwiches with Garces, and even went to the Downtown Eastside to hand out the food.
"It was cool," Joshua said of his experience. "I learned that you shouldn't do drugs."
He said he would like to go again. Mom Nichole McLeod said she wanted her children to help make the sandwiches, as well as hand them out to the less fortunate, to illustrate the realities of homelessness and poverty.
"Kids nowadays have too much. They don't realize how blessed they are," said McLeod.
"I wanted to do something to show them what other people are going through and how lucky they are. And to show them what it feels like to give."
For more information, visit thehandsthatfeed.com.
© Copyright 2013