Ryan Bilodeau of Gift Card Project Encourages Social Distancing During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Newsweek Magazine recently wrote about the plight of the homeless during the coronavirus while answering readers who wondered how they could help the homeless during this time.
“Homeless service providers are facing a long list of needs during the COVID-19 outbreak, but it’s particularly challenging to know how to best help at this moment,” said Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. She goes onto explain that there is a wide spectrum of what people who are homeless need ranging from cleaning products to medical support.
The Gift Card Project, which aims to help the homeless in communities around the country, is encouraging its volunteers to remain prudent while helping the homeless during this time.
In a statement, Gift Card Project founder Ryan Bilodeau reminded program ambassadors to “… remember the airplane analogy. Airline flight attendants always encourage us to put oxygen masks on ourselves before putting them on others. We all want to help the homeless, but must honor the CDC rules surrounding social distancing so that we can live another day to help others in the future.”
The Gift Card Project is an organization that seeks to help the homeless on a national level in two stages.
Stage 1 — 2020:
Stage One involves raising awareness among U.S. citizens about the GCP approach to helping the homeless by means of a long-term and aggressive advertising strategy. Our hope is to create an army of private citizens who help the homeless in their own communities throughout the U.S. in two ways:
- Want to help the homeless? The Gift Card Project proposes that you carry with you at all times $5 or $10 gift cards to local fast-food restaurants and be on the lookout for the homeless in your neighborhood. People in need are more efficiently and effectively helped by those on the local level.
- Have a kind conversation with the person you are helping. Central to the GCP is the reminding of the person that their dignity is not depleted because of their current state. Many models of charity (non-profits that accept donations or church food pantries asking for canned goods) insulate the helper from the helped. The GCP brings one face to face with the person being helped by means of a donation, which is vital because practical assistance without emotional support goes only so far.
The long-term and ultimate goal of the Gift Card Project is to provide the homeless not with gift cards to fast-food restaurants, but rather with gift card vouchers that give the homeless access to our nationwide vending machines filled with basic goods like food, blankets, toiletries, pre-paid cell phones, etc.