How do you make 143 sandwiches? If you take that question literally, well then you need 13 loafs of bread, 2 packs of ham, a box of cheese, 2 jars of peanut butter, 2 jars of jelly, and one day to dedicate to making them. But in reality, all you need is a great group of friends and couple hours of your time.
As we gathered on a chilly Friday evening, we spoke of memories from the last time we headed to Venice Beach. Stories of how some of the people we met got there and where they were headed. People with many words to say, and many more with none. A common theme among those we met, was curiosity. "Why are you doing this? Who are you working for?" I suppose it’s a genuine surprise to see a young group of people just handing out food to strangers. Especially in this day and age. But let’s ask again, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Well...it's because we can. Most of us don't know what it’s like to live in the streets, and can only imagine what they go through. If you can, put yourself in their shoes. Not having anything to eat or drink and relying only on what others leave behind. Just wishing someone would be willing to help.
That is honestly the only reason we do it. As small as an impact it is, it’s still an impact. If we went out there with one sandwich and were only able to help one person, then it was a success. The thing is, we aren’t the only ones willing to help. A simple flyer posted on Instagram sparks an incredible amount of interest in these events. Like I’ve said before in my own blog, the photography community in Los Angeles is incredibly generous. All it takes is for you to ask them. Many offered their time and energy to help make sandwiches or help hand them out, and others offering money to help pay for the food. I remember being out there myself, handing out sandwiches and having strangers come up to us with cash in hand ready to donate towards the next event. That is pretty amazing.
But it’s not about us and how it makes us feel. It’s about helping THEM. It’s about how we make THEM feel. When you do help out, you get a true sense of appreciation. Many people came up to us to ask how much it was for a sandwich, or let us know they only had a few cents with them. But when we handed it to them, you could tell just how grateful they were. Dozens of people came up to us, and when the word spread more followed. But we also went to them. For a lack of a better way to put it we went into their homes, their spaces and connected with them on a personal level. We had conversations with them. Let them know they are not forgotten, and that they are still cared about.
In the end, we hope to show that this is possible. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are over 600,000 people without a home on any given night in the US. Locally in California, there are over 100,000. That is an awful lot of people for just a handful of individuals to try to help. But if we can all donate a day out of the month, we can at least give these people some bit of hope. Remember that none of us are tied to any corporation, company, or government entity. You don’t need to be. You just need to have the desire to help. I hope we can help inspire this generation to do so. All politics aside, we as a nation should be focused on helping these individuals and not about helping the punch line of a joke become our leader.
In the humble words of many we met our there, God Bless.