It is heartbreaking when a man has to be condemned to a life of being constantly tossed about, without rest or respite. Home becomes the place where they stand. Their life is a constant move from nowhere to another nowhere. The story of each homeless man is different, the underlying causes and conditions innumerable. They definitely had a hard time much before they were homeless. They were deprived of one of life’s basic necessities, a home to call their own.
But this isn’t the real poverty for these men. That comes when there is no one in the world to love you, none to make you feel that you matter. The homeless thirst more for love and compassion, even more than a roof over their heads. The benevolence of a few good Samaritans has made life a little more livable.
Huzaifah Khaled, then a graduate student, used to watch the homeless every day on his way to the University. He was curious about how they sustained themselves. He empathized with their needs and discovered that the charities that provided the basics for them were limited in their reach by the system through which they operated. The homeless had to reach there every time they needed something and the time these charities operated were within limited hours. Khaled realized that a more efficient system was needed so that the homeless could get access to their basic requirements. He wanted to find a solution and hit upon the idea of a vending machine from which the homeless could get their basic requirements round the clock.
Khaled founded the non-profit organization Action Hunger of which he is the director. These vending machines dispense food, water, toothpaste, toothbrush, and socks. He installed the first vending machine at a shopping center in Nottingham, UK in 2017. N&W Global Vending donated the machine. Many more were set up in the city. Now they also provide energy bars, chocolate, sandwiches, fresh fruit, socks, anti-bacterial lotions, sanitary towels, and books.
The vending machines use a system of keycards provided by The Friary, a partner organization. It is a daycare center that looks after these homeless people. Action Hunger provides an additional relief complimenting the care that the shelters already provide for these homeless. The keycard can be reactivated after every 2 weeks at the Friary. This interaction between the local support and professionals with the homeless is vital as it breaks the vicious cycle of despair.
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The idea reached the other side of the Atlantic. Muncie, in Indiana, has installed similar vending machines that dispense free blankets and clean clothes for the homeless. The homeless are required to for support at Bridges Community Services to receive tokens that are valid at all machines.
The news channel, RTV6 estimates that there are 200 homeless people in Delaware County alone. Some live in shelters while most make do with difficult living conditions says Karen Buffin of the Bridges Community Services Fund. Buffin feels that this is a great way that the community can reach out and it shows that the community cares for the homeless. What makes the initiative so special is that all items in the vending machine are donated by community members. If you want to do your bit for the homeless, Karee Buffin of Bridges Community Services can be contacted at 765-282-3948 ext 222.