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Students shine light on homeless community in Portland

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@humansofptown: “It’s your lucky day, have the rest of the donuts, but you better share them with your friends.” “Heck yeah! We got like 20 other people who are gonna eat these. We’re street family, we stick together!”

On April 25, a group of students improvised a school humanitarian project that inspired and impacted the communities of Gresham and Portland. What began as a simple idea to reach out to the homeless community in downtown portland, sparked an idea to spread awareness in the process.

Juniors Lesli Morales and Tayla Dailey set their sights on impacting the homeless community within Portland in a positive way. Morales pitched this as their main focus after becoming inspired from working with the people of Night Strike, a non profit organization focused on reaching out to the homeless community in Portland.

The two began work on their project, struggling with finding donations for the care packages they wanted to create to deliver to homeless citizens living downtown. After brainstorming new ideas, Morales says she recalled Portland’s popular donut shop, Voodoo Donuts, sold a bucket of donuts at a fairly discounted price and that handing out food could potentially help them have a more personal impact on the homeless community.

“I figured it was easier than making care packages because it was more personal and intentional,” Morales said.

As the project finally began to come together, Morales and Dailey purchased the bucket of donuts and headed out to the streets of Portland. The team started off handing out donuts and forming conversations with the people they interacted with. When the bucket quickly became empty, the duo decided to continue their generosity.

“I was so in love with the new idea, I planned on going back and bringing coffee because who doesn’t like coffee with their donuts right? So, I made about 8 pots of coffee and put it all in a coffee holder. I bought some cups and napkins and went back down,” Morales said. “The coffee was a hit and I just got to drink coffee with them and have them share their story.”

Once the conversations fluttered to an end, the two snapped a photo of the homeless civilians and wrote down quotes that would serve as the caption for that certain picture. This was the start of their “Humans of New York” styled instagram that they created for their project. The two created an instagram titled “@HumansOfPTown” in hopes of breaking the stereotypes commonly associated with homeless people.

“We want everyone to not pity the people who live under the bridge or on the sidewalk, but to understand that they matter and need help too.” Dailey said.

The message Morales and Dailey are spreading is similar to the Night Strike organization’s message, “Love people because people matter”.

“People matter in general and loving people is so watered down and put into a box,” Morales said. “I want people to go out of their way and even just smile to whoever, ask how there day is, anything that makes people feel valued. Anybody deserves to be genuinely listened to and loved despite whatever circumstance.”

The response the project got over social media was very positive and well received. Quickly gaining over 200 followers and racking up likes and comments of encouragement, Morales and Dailey got their message out to the community.

“I hope that people can see that they aren’t out for your money.” Morales said. “I’ve talked to countless people and the thing they adored most was the fact that I listened to what they had to say.”

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