April 18, 2021

Free Street Stores That Gives Free Clothes to the Homeless Are Appearing Everywhere

The Street Store is an idea of the copywriter Kayli Vee Levitan of M&C Saatchi Abel in Cape Town and the idea of  Max Pazak, that came to them one day when they were standing on their office balcony looking down and observing all the people passing by below. “We didn’t want to do just a cold clothing drive, because while it may make people donate once, we wanted to make them want to donate in the future too,” Kayli Vee Levitan, said.

This Street Store is a charity that donates clothing to the homeless, it is a rent-free, building free, a pop-up clothing store that gives clothing away to the poor FREE. It started as a one-time event in 2014 to helo the poor of Cape Town, South Africa and it has blossomed into a worldwide innovative way to helo the homeless in a dignified way.

Kayli Vee Levitan also said: “Our offices are in Green Point – a very hip and trendy area, but where you find a lot of homeless people. We saw how the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ cross one another’s paths on the streets, but never really meet. The ‘haves’ fear the homeless and get frustrated with their begging – so they begin to ignore them. This dehumanizes the homeless which makes them feel even more comfortable with begging as they begin to see the ‘haves’ as pockets (of money), rather than people. This vicious cycle of dehumanization separates these two worlds.”

When the first Street Store was held, people who donated clothing had to do it in person, so they could interact with the people who were receiving the clothing. It’s realized that homelessness was not exclusive to Cape Town or to South Africa Levitan and Pazak opened the pop-up street store concept to any organization that wanted to run one. Levitan said: “All the donated clothing was hung up individually on so the homeless could browse through the garments and not have to dig through bins. Volunteers were on hand to help people pick out clothing that worked for the shoppers. It was a complete success. They gave away 1,000 bags off clothing that day.

Since that time, the rent-free, pop-up charity has been held in cities across the globe. It is escalating progress and thanks to the minimal nature of its infrastructure. And with some volunteers and some pieces of cardboard, the Street Store can pop up anywhere in the world. The start is easy, the first step is to access the Street Store start-up guide. Then, following the instructions. It is recommended that whoever decides to open a shop collaborates with a local homeless shelter or organization since volunteers are needed to administrate the event.

You can download these open-source poster designs from TheStreetStore.org, and as printed and assembled they serve as hangers and placemats to hold clothing donations. A store can be open anywhere where there is a public space because it is the easiest way to connect the homeless to the city and there should be a large fence at the location to hang the posters.