#Hashtag Lunchbag Detroit, a nonprofit organization, and volunteers came together in a major way to help feed and clothe the homeless and less fortunate. People gathered together to collect food, clothing, and help distribute the items to various areas in downtown Detroit populated with individuals living on the streets.
Rolling out spoke with the members of the Detroit chapter to find out more information about this hashtag phenomenon.
When was #Hashtag Lunchbag founded?
Myka Burley: The hood of the organization was initially founded in 2012 in Los Angeles [on] Christmas Day. From there, the word was sent out and it began to spread like fire. We are the Detroit Chapter of #Hashtag Lunchbag.
When did the Detroit chapter begin?
MB: We started the Detroit chapter in December 2013.
What is the main goal of this organization?
MB: We have two primary goals. The first goal is to have a platform where people can come together to help our larger community by providing food — and other items they may need. It’s not just about the items we give, but also the love that is given to people who are less fortunate. The second goal is to create a culture that is exciting and fun and sparking the mindsets to want to help other people.
What made you get involved with the organization?
Brittni Brown: I’ve always had a passion [for] working with homelessness and hunger and when I relocated to Detroit, I found out about #Hashtag Lunchbag through social media, came out and volunteered and offered my PR services to spread the word and here I am now! I make it a requirement for my personal agency to commit my services to a nonprofit organization. … The best feeling is being able to serve alongside your peers and community.
How do you get volunteers?
Joshua Kennedy: As a team, we have an amazing Public Relations coordinator who literally pushes out events out. The unique thing about #Hashtag Lunchbag is that it’s social media driven. You can find us and information about us using the hashtag and that’s all events all over the World. We’re not just in Los Angeles and Detroit. It is searchable on all social media handles.
What kinds of items do you collect?
BB: We collect items to make turkey sandwiches, as well as we may have themed months where we collect hats, gloves, supplies for teachers, etc. This month we collected food and warm things needed for those who may be without living on the street.
How do you determine the areas you’ll go to distribute the food and clothing items?
JK: Normally in past events, we would encourage our volunteers to go anywhere. This year, we established partnerships with local organizations that serve the homeless population such as Mariners, NSO and Forgotten Harvest. Because it’s the winter, we’re targeting the warming centers where a lot of people who are without shelter and may be hungry would go to find shelter. Some of those areas are the Cass Corridor and the Rosa Parks Transit Center which are our most populated areas. We also partner with a lot of churches like Greater Grace to distribute food at their building and we also have a partnership with the Detroit City Council and the Green Light Gas Stations. We distribute from there as well.
How many people do you expect to give to with the event you recently held?
BB: Around 300 people.
What’s the message you want the community to receive?
Andy Rutebuka: To appreciate what you have and don’t take it for granted. Some people complain about clothes not fitting, but the people we’re servicing barely have clothes on their backs. You have to be appreciative.
How do people stay updated with #Hashtag Lunchbag Detroit?
AR: We send out an eblast for every event and people can follow our social media pages @hashtaglunchbag_det and Hashtaglunchbag Detroit.