On the 23rd of August 2014, The Youth Givers Circle – co-ordinated by Olwethu Sizani, programme co-ordinator at TSDP and the TSDP Givers Circle hosted the 23rd Street Store in the world!
Olwethu facilitates a virtual youth givers circle, which is dedicated to philanthropy in South Africa. The aim of the circle is to create a space where young people can pool together financial and non-financial resources and give towards projects, organisations and causes they are passionate about. The group currently has members located in various parts of the country. This winter the Johannesburg members to get together and do something for the homeless and this is when the vibrant idea of a street store idea came about.
A street store is a pop up store that gives the homeless an opportunity to shop for FREE for necessities such as clothes and toiletries, something many of us take for granted. It gives them the chance not only to find clothes they like but those that fit as well.
The Street Store began as an initiative for a homeless shelter in Cape Town. But the people behind the idea realized that homelessness and poverty isn’t a uniquely Cape Town problem, and therefor The Street Store shouldn’t be uniquely a Cape Town solution.
For more information, check out their site on: www.streetstore.org
Many of us have never participated in an event such as the one we held on Saturday, but our spirits were moved to such an extent that we wish we could make a habit of it and change more lives. 300 homeless people lined the street and assisted by our personal shoppers, they left with clothes, toiletries and great big smiles.
All of that could not have been possible if it were not for the 22 volunteers that assisted us on the day, and the many wonderful people that donated clothes and shoes. We collected bags and bags of stuff for the store.
A special thank you to the TSDP Givers Circle who contributed a generous amount of money towards the purchasing of 300 toiletry packs – to hand out on the day! Thank you wonderful givers.
The love and kindness they showed was truly amazing. The emotions that were flowing on that day made it impossible for even those who thought they were “men of steel” to not shed a tear or two. The art of empathy enables us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears and hearts of other human beings. An art that we were all able to master on the day.
Probably not all the people we were assisting said “thank you” or smiled back when we were trying our utmost best to be friendly but we would like to think they appreciate the “new” clothing and shoes they “bought” and the toiletry and fruit packs handed to them. They can now share in the moments we take for granted like waking up and brushing our teeth every morning and having soap to wash.
Photos by Samantha Samuels