Project Hope for the Homeless
"I work off and on. Mostly day work is all there is. Used to be a teacher. I'd like to find a good job, but how? When you're on the street, you've got one set of clothes, two if you're lucky, and they're always dirty. No place to shave, shower, clean up. And any job that's decent will ask for an address, phone number, a driver's license. It's hard to break out of the cycle and into focus. " --Mark (a homeless person)
Mark is just one of the estimated 1.2 -2 million people who experience homelessness each year, about 760,000 people are homeless each night (Homeless Youth). When we looked at these figures, it made us stop and think of how fortunate we are to have a home, clothing, food, and little things that many of us take for granted. Like Mark, many homeless people have nothing to look forward to. They don't know where they are going to sleep that night or what they are going to eat next. Many homeless people have no hope.
We, Aimee Johnson and Jessie Virnig, along with Amy Wilson and Shawn Klimek, decided to try to give the homeless a little hope. The week before Christmas we went door to door and collected food for the local homeless shelter. We decided to focus on collecting food because around the Christmas season, a lot of emphasis is put on toy drives and people sometimes overlook the fact that the homeless still need to eat. In order to broaden our research, we decided to collect food from more than one group of people. We went to an average middle class neighborhood and to a college dormitory. Before we went out into the neighborhood and dorms, we prepared a thank you letter to give to everyone explaining to them who we were, to tell them that we were collecting food for the homeless shelter, and thanking them for their support. We also attached a candy cane to the letter to show our appreciation. We gave them the letter regardless of whether they donated or not.
We started by going up and down the street of a middle class neighborhood. For the most part people weren't overjoyed about donating food, but they didn't seem bothered by it either. We knocked on the door of one house and an elderly lady answered. Aimee said, "Hello we are from Bemidji State University and we are collecting food for a local homeless shelter and we were wondering if you would like to donate anything?"
The lady looked at us and said, 'hold on, I'll be right back."
We smiled and she left the doorway. A few seconds later she came back with a ten dollar bill. We had not expected to get any money and we think that showed in our faces. When she looked at us, she became worried and started questioning us about where her money would go to. We think that she believed that we were just going to pocket her money. We kept trying to reassure her that she could trust us and that if she was not sure about her donation she did not have to give it to us. One of us pointed out that our names were at the bottom of the sheet if she...