British Columbia

Vancouver binners celebrate at annual holiday BBQ

The Vancouver Regional Recycling Depot held its annual "binners' barbecue" on Saturday as a way to give back to its clientele, many who are homeless. 

5th annual event provided food, clothes to people who collect recyclable beverage containers

A volunteer offers a hot dog at the fifth annual "binners' barbecue" on the Downtown Eastside. (CBC)

The Vancouver Regional Recycling Depot held its annual "binners' barbecue" on Saturday to give back to its most prolific clientele, many who are homeless. 

It was the fifth year for the event, which  provided hot dogs, drinks and gifts like warm clothes for hundreds of people who collect and return beverage containers in exchange for a deposit. 

Jason Smith, the depot's general manager, says the holiday party helps staff get to know its clients. 

"We get to find out who they are, get their stories," Smith said, adding that half of the binners are homeless.  

'I don't want to steal'

Binning is a way of life for many homeless people. They say the money they collect throughout the day can make a big difference. 

"I need to [bin] because I don't want to steal, I don't want to rip people off and end up in jail," said Chris Beedle at the event Saturday.

Hundreds of binners collect and return bottles to Vancouver's regional recycling depot every year. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Beedle received some food, clothes and a pair of shoes. He said the hoodie given to him will be especially handy because he's cold a lot of the time. 

The depot donated about $2,700 toward the event, and some people brought in extra clothes. 

Eight-year-old Elianna Koubi heard about the barbecue from her mother. She put up a poster in her classroom soliciting donations. On Saturday, she arrived with coats, blankets socks and feet warmers. 

"I thought it was very fun," Elianna said. "It made me feel fun, and happy." 

With files from Deborah Goble

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