GOOD

Here’s All It Takes to Change Someone’s World: Socks, Underwear, Toiletries—and Maybe a Van.

Donate your STUFF to a good cause. #100StartsWith1

We’re teaming up with our friends at Sambazon for 100 days of little ways to change our world. Follow along for the next 100 days of action (and giveaways) on Instagram @Sambazon and at www.sambazon.com/100. And don’t forget to tell us @GOOD about how you’re changing your world with the hashtag #100Startswith1.

#100StartsWith1

Champion: Tiffany A. Rose

Action: Pledge to donate socks, toiletries, undergarments, footwear, or food (STUFF) to the homeless.


Every single Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m., Tiffany A. Rose and about 25 volunteers set up a few folding tables in Skid Row. And by the time they arrive, there are already people waiting in line. “Sometimes when it rains, I’ll have a volunteer call in and say—are we going in today? I always say—is it Wednesday? Then yes,” Rose says. “There’s already enough inconsistency in these people’s lives.”

Rose is the founder of My Friend’s House Foundation, a mission she established with three friends in 2008, not long after she moved to the city from Virginia. She was shocked when she encountered Skid Row, a 54-block area in downtown Los Angeles that is home to the nation’s largest population of homeless people. “I’ve always been the type who’s a doer, and not a talker.” So she wasn’t satisfied with handing out food or water bottles once in awhile, and decided to do more.

On My Friend’s House Foundation’s very first Wednesday, Rose served 75 people. Today, Tiffany says 250 people or more line up for basic staples: food, toiletries, and clothes that have been donated by people and organizations throughout Los Angeles county.

Over the years, Rose says My Friend’s House Foundation really has started to feel like a friend’s home, and she’s glad there are so many friendly, familiar faces at the folding tables. Many of those who once stood line have since gotten on their feet, and now like to come back and volunteer—though Rose does find herself heartbroken to see so many people return to stand in line, year after year.

Tiffany A. Rose

“Quite a few of the people who come are extremely educated and well-versed. If you saw them in another atmosphere, you would not know they were homeless,” says Rose. It’s important to her that everyone who comes through is treated with respect and dignity. “Cleanliness is important to me. Provide them with the best that you can.”

Rose will not accept donations of dirty clothes; if food falls on the ground, it gets tossed out. Whenever possible, she likes to provide brand-new items—especially socks, undergarments, toothbrushes, and other toiletries. Those are the items that get snatched up the fastest, she says.

Besides the increase in awareness over the years, and the purchase of a van that has made it significantly easier to transport donated items to the Skid Row site, not a lot has changed for My Friends House LA since its launch in 2008. And that’s by design. “It’s about commitment, consistency, and dependability,” says Rose. “If it’s noon on Wednesday, you will find us there.”

Toolkit

We’re sure you’ve thought about making a donation to the homeless before. But for this challenge, we want you to focus on those basic essentials that every human being needs and deserves.

1. Pledge to donate STUFF to the homeless. (That’s socks, toiletries, undergarments, footwear, or food.) Tell your friends you’re doing it, too, and use the hashtag #100StartsWith1. We’ll use the hashtag to find you and send you a digital coupon for a discount on Sambazon products.

Share this photo on social media and tell friends to support you with the hashtag #100StartsWith1, and we'll send you a coupon for a FREE Sambazon 100 beverage. Pick it up the next time you're at the store (while you get that extra pair of socks).

2. Next time you’re at the convenience store, pick up two bottles of shampoo instead of one. When you go on a trip, keep those travel-sized bottles to share with someone in need. You get it. Keep it simple.

3. If you get ambitious, invite others to join you by organizing a drive in your office, apartment building, or church.

Download a sample flyer here.

Talk to your building manager about specifics—like where the most convenient spot is to gather your items. Post some signs or flyers in your elevator and parking garage. Send out some email reminders, too. To get you started, we’ve drafted up a sample email for you to blast to your contacts.

4. Look up a great organization to send your items to. If you’re in Los Angeles, you’re of course welcome to reach out to My Friend’s House Foundation. We also recommend looking up an organization in your area using this directory. If you’d rather donate food, we recommend these options. And if you have some high-quality clothing items to donate—such as an interview suit—try Dress for Success.

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