Rent free, building free and free to the homeless, the Street Store is a charity initiative which started when like-minded individuals came together to offer those in need a dignified solution to a rather paining problem.

“Our client, The Haven Night Shelter for the homeless, wanted to bring in donations and generate awareness. 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.” – Levitan

Copywriter Kayli Vee Levitan of M&C Saatchi Abel and Max Pazak are the founders of Street Store and the inspiration came when they happened to peer down from their office balcony and spotted a serious problem.

“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.”

Conventional charity methods are uninspiring and honestly failing the people who need help the most and Street Store is shattering it all, helping in a rather fresh, creative manner.

January 2014 saw the launch of the very first Street Store in Cape Town, South Africa with Levitan reminiscing the day: “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.”

The rent-free charity store has since seen an appearance in multiple cities around the globe, seeing the need for just a handful of volunteers and some simple cardboard, it’s one of the easiest, most mobile initiatives there is.

It is an initiative that anyone can follow, you can literally pick a location and get going, although it’s recommended to collaborate your efforts with a local shelter to find volunteers and organizers.

The posters are downloadable via TheStreetStore.org and are easily printed to be distributed, doubling as hangers and placemats to hold the clothing donations received.

You simply pick a spot, assemble your store and off you go – oh and you will need a decent fence to hang your posters.

“We just want The Street Store to continue growing around the world. We are continually adding new languages and assisting people globally to make their dream of hosting a Street Store come to life. Since 14 January 2014, more than 500 stores have popped up in 200+ cities – we’d like this number to continue growing… forever.” – Levitan.

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