On April 25th our crew took to the streets of downtown Austin once again. With the vote on Proposition B, which bans camping and criminalizes homelessness in Austin, only a week away, there was a somewhat somber mood when we showed up on Sunday morning. Many of our clients are unsure what the future might have in store for them. Nevertheless, we came loaded up on hygiene kits, socks, underwear, books, snacks and other living essentials. Once the giveaway started and the line began to move, smiles could be seen and laughter could be heard.
Special thanks are due to a few organizations who pitched in. Thank you to I Support the Girls Austin, which has been providing masks, bras, underwear, menstrual supplies, and other essentials. The bras and underwear have been extremely popular with our clients. Thank you to Foundation Beyond Belief for their continued monetary support. Each month we’ve been able to provide fresh fruits as well as replenish our staples like socks, condoms, tissues, bus passes and so much more. And last but definitely not least, thank you to Kristin and Linda from Better Together for acquiring and serving delicious bagels to our clients.
While part of the team was downtown distributing hygiene kits, our EAT initiative team was in North Austin delivering shelf-stable groceries to our neighbors who aren’t as close to as many services offered downtown. One of our teams encountered a motorcycle club who insisted on helping carry the bags of food and water to the underpass where our clients sleep. COVID may be highly infectious, but so is helping people.
April also marks our last month of pre-assembled hygiene bags that we had been distributing during the COVID pandemic. Starting in May, we will be returning to our previous configuration of tables and partitions. Volunteers and clients will be asked to mask up and sanitize their hands before working or acquiring items from the line. We are going to cap volunteers to 12-15 people to ensure there is no crowding, so please sign up on our FB events page or get in touch to volunteer. This opportunity right now is Saturdays 9-11 a.m.
After a year of skipped and altered giveaways because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited to move forward in May with a near-normal giveaway and an end to bagged items. We’ll be setting up tables with baskets of many of our staple items – a selection of hygiene and toiletry items, socks underwear, and more. Why?
- Distributing pre-packed bags of items leads to significant waste through unused and un-needed items.
- Tables with baskets allow our clients to choose exactly what they want and need with dignity and select an adequate quantity.
- A sizable share of regular volunteers have shared that they are fully vaccinated, lowering the overall risk of transmission to the clients we serve.
All volunteers will remain socially distanced with masks, and use hand sanitizer offered at the tables as well. Needless to say, we are REALLY looking forward to returning to what we’ve found to be the most effective and efficient means of distributing a short-term supply of basic living items to those in need in Central Austin. Please reach out if you’re a volunteer age 16+ and ready to come back to our monthly giveaways on the fourth Sunday of each month. We are looking forward to seeing you all again and building back up our regular team of volunteers!