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For most of us a bad day means arriving late to work, spilling coffee on the bus, stepping on ice cubes while wearing socks, you know, reasonable complaints. But when's the last time you slept outside in a Chicago winter?
"I started Drive By Fooding after watching a Youtube video where an actor pretends to be homeless and asks people for money. Their reactions were things like, "get a job" or "get away from me." After the interaction he took off the costume and most people realized they weren't treating homeless people as they would want to be treated. This actually triggered memories of a short period in my life when I was homeless, and I decided to do something to help not only directly through donations, but also, in ways to help others realize how they should treat people better in general," said Jason Wajswol, founder of the local non-profit organization.
The next day after watching the video, Jason decided to pack 50 lunch bags with a bottle of water, an apple, an orange, a granola bar, and a little bag of snacks. He drove around Chicago passing them out to any homeless person that wanted it. He ran out of bags in five hours.
"The name came from exactly what we were doing," Wajswol said. "We were driving by, and giving food, and I thought the name could also be a positive twist on a similar sounding phrase describing violence that plagues Chicago, and other places."
After seeing the appreciation and smiles of people who thought society had forgotten about them, Jason decided to do this more often, and on a larger scale. In the past few months, organizer Jess Starr set up shop in Baltimore, Maryland and Teresa Lang is working out of Kansas City, Missouri.
"I'd like to see this project expand to other U.S. cities, and eventually around the world. I'd like to see the project expand by getting an RV to give the homeless the option of having a hot meal, a shower, and a place to hang out other than outdoors," Wajswol explained. "I'd also like to offer them paid part-time jobs in city beautification projects where they pick up garbage on sidewalks and in parks. I'm working to connect with the city on painting murals on overpasses and ugly walls. Our broad goals include exploring housing and healthcare options."
Through donations, the pre-packaged bags also include a toothbrush, full tube of toothpaste, a few packets of antibacterial hand and face wipes, and sandwiches. Other donated non-food items are clothing, blankets, gloves, hats, and importantly, socks and underwear.
The best ways to contribute to Drive By Fooding is to contact Jason Wajswol on Facebook, or the GoFundMe page. You may consider assisting in a delivery, donating funds, food, or non-food items. You can find the best way to help by working directly with organizers.
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