The deposit on a single bottle or can isn't much, but a Vancouver woman is finding a way to take that small amount and make a big difference.

Gia Tran has just reached a huge milestone.

She collects bottles and cans, one at a time. That's how she finds the money to help the people she loves.

"I help people… I give money, I don't know how much," she told CTV News.

"Every day, I give."

Everything the 62-year-old picks up in a day she exchanges for cash, then gives the money to the BC Cancer Foundation.

While the deposit on an individual item can be as low as five cents, it adds up.

"Today I have $25! I gave $20," she said Thursday.

Sarah Roth, CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation, says they've gotten to know Tran over time: "She's gotten to know us, we look forward to her."

She averages about $15 a week in donations, and over more than two decades, her total is well into the thousands.

"It's been 21 years and $15,000. That's remarkable," Roth said.

The money goes to the foundation's charitable programs, including cancer research.

Tran says she didn't have any money to give 21 years ago, but realized she could raise it through the deposit on any recyclable container.

"Twenty years ago I have children, I cannot work, no job. I think I want to help, I have no money, I don't know why," she said.

Then, "I look at cans! I have money! I help people."

Friends and family often tell her to slow down, but she keeps going.

"She brings a smile to everyone's face. She's always smiling," Roth said.

Individual bottles and cans aren't worth much, but Tran knows every little bit counts.

With a report from CTV Vancouver's Jon Woodward