When I was a kid, I would stare at the homeless people whenever my family went to the city and wonder.
Who were these people? Where’s their family? And most importantly, why are they here?
Whether you grew up in the city or out in the suburbs, anyone with a ‘home’ immediately has something others don’t. It’s difficult to fathom how somebody’s life could be stripped down to a sidewalk and a shopping bag, but you see it every single day in the city of Chicago.
Growing up in the suburbs, my dad would take us to Giordano’s in Willowbrook after Little League games. Of course, I knew how big of a treat it was to eat a massive and cheesy deep-dish pizza. But when you’re young and naive, you don’t realize just how good you have it.
Most of us kids got new baseball cleats before each season. Plenty of kids in Chicago don’t even know what new baseball cleats feel like.
In 2012-13 alone, identified 2,512 unaccompanied youth attending their schools. That means more than 2,500 teens in Chicago are either homeless or living without a parent/guardian.
There’s no shortage of things we, as a city, can do for the homeless. From toothpaste to deodorant, our basic needs are another man’s luxuries. So, our staff brainstormed some ways to make the lives of the homeless a little bit better. And then, a crazy question led to an odd idea.
How often do homeless people in Chicago get to eat a fresh slice of deep dish pizza?
Better yet, when’s the last time they had an entire Chicago deep dish pizza to themselves?
In an attempt to indulge the people that need it most, we decided to act on this question. And thanks to Giordano’s Pizza – the creators of stuffed pizza – we’ve created “National Give Homeless People Pizza Week.”
“National Give Homeless People Pizza Week”
Sponsored by Giordano’s Pizza
Monday, July 27th, 2015
For the rest of the week, we’ll be bringing a large deep-dish pizza to different homeless people across the city of Chicago. On top of that, we’ll be giving them care packages to cover the things we call basics (bandaids, portable toothbrush, and so on).
We hope you’ll join us in commemorating “National Give Homeless People Pizza Week.”
Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
On Tuesday, the first official day of our “National Give Homeless People Pizza Week,” we found James and Henry.
Sitting on the corner of Clark & Superior in River North, I spotted them from down the block and decided to make my way over and offer them the Giordano’s pizza.
As I approached, James (on the left above) stared down the pizza. No exaggeration, he looked at the pizza like he was day-dreaming for it to be his own.
And lucky for him, it was.
I wasn’t sure how to start, as they weren’t exactly clothed in rags. So I asked if they were hungry, and they said “of course.”
Then, I told them I had just picked up this pizza from Giordano’s, it was still unopen, and that it was all theirs.
After handing it to Henry (on the right above), he stared at me with a look of awe while James simply chuckled to himself.
Then I gave them a bag with two bottles of water, a pack of band-aids, and a portable toothbrush kit – things James told me they (the homeless) need the most. But don’t be fooled, they assured me the pizza was an unexpected treat.
Before saying goodbye to my new friends, I asked James and Henry if they could remember the last time they had a large, freshly cooked pizza all to themselves.
With a smile on his face, Henry responded, “it’s been quite some time.”
Whether you want to bring more awareness to Chicago’s homeless community or simply make a homeless person’s day with a cheesy pie of crusty goodness, we encourage you to submit stories and/or photos of your contributions to the homeless by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
We’ve been honored to raise awareness for Chicago’s homeless. That said, let’s get one more thing straight.
In order to build attention, you must focus time, energy and resources. That’s not a quote I found somewhere, it’s the truth. If a news blog doesn’t raise attention for the homeless, who’s going to?
Are you? Okay, go ahead. Go make a homeless person’s day.
They could really use it.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015
According to ABC7 Chicago, an estimated 140,000 homeless people live in Chicago. Students are forced to live in shelters, in tents, in parks or whatever place they can find.
Ironically enough, my dad was the one that co-engineered this investigation for the I-Team (but perhaps you guessed that by his last name). No, I assure you this wasn’t intentional. Then again, it wasn’t a coincidence either.
Since 2003, Chicago has spent $50 million on homeless prevention. However, neither the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, nor the heads of his department would talk to the I-Team about their report.
Over the course of a month, the I-Team asked city officials to comment on the report below. Still, they all gave the same answer.
Friday, July 31st, 2015 – Sunday, August 2nd
Over the weekend, I attended Lollapalooza. For a recap of the music itself, you can read this.
Whether or not you attended, there’s a good chance you heard about the weather-related evacuation that took place at the festival on Sunday afternoon. Upon clearing the festival premises, I walked towards lower Wacker Drive to avoid getting drenched. And in doing so, I walked past the row of homeless people lining the sidewalks.
It wasn’t their presence on these sidewalks that surprised me, but the fact that every single one of them was eating a freshly-cooked, personal pizza.
Because of the ensuing storm, vendors at the festival began giving away food that was going to go to waste. But instead of chowing down on a free pizza, dozens of festival-goers decided to give it to the homeless instead.
It doesn’t matter if this was merely a coincidence, or if ‘National Give Homeless People Pizza Week’ actually inspired these people to pay it forward. Our point is that even small acts of charity can make a big difference.
Monday, August 3rd
Thanks to everybody who supported ‘National Give Homeless People Pizza Week.’ We decided to deliver one last batch of Giordano’s Pizza to a few of Chicago’s homeless.
Watch the video below, and share it if you want to do the same.