Strangers Supporting Strangers: The 2017 Supermarket Drive

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By Division I Media & Journalism reporter Grace

On Saturday, April 15th, from 11am-3pm, a group of students and a teacher congregated in front of the Stop & Shop in Jamaica Plain. Bearing flyers and a purpose, they approached strangers entering the store to inform them about family homelessness and ask for donations or contributions.

When I arrived at the drive, it was a little past 11am. Tables were just set up with signs taped to them. We set out flyers about Our Place and empty jars on the tables. Our Place, a daycare center for homeless children, is run by the Salvation Army and supported by the state and donations. Its purpose is to break the cycle of family homelessness by providing food, supplies and homes for children during the day. We explained to people that we were primarily raising money and asking for contributions of diapers, wipes, art supplies, or baby food. The responses to this varied incredibly; some were happy to give donations the second we explained it to them, while others walked right past. Some of the people who donated explained that they were in shelters growing up, or had lived in shelters with their own children. This experience seemed to make them all the more enthusiastic about giving. Some parents gave money to their children to put in the jars, while others took flyers.

In the beginning, one of the hardest things was talking to people. It seemed incredibly rude to stop random strangers in the middle of their day to talk about something that might hardly concern them. But we took turns standing by the door, and by the end of my shift, I felt completely comfortable talking to people I’d never met. All in all, I felt it was a great experience and a lot more productive than staying home all day. Best of all, our relatively simple asking strategy worked. By the end of the drive, we raised over 6,000 baby supplies and $400 dollars in cash!