I came across this amazing initiative last week, please read more below.

We, Kayli Levitan and Max Pazak, work in an advertising agency called M&C Saatchi Abel, in Green Point. It’s a very trendy area, but homelessness is a huge problem. The haves and the have-nots pass one other every day, but they don’t “meet”.

People want to donate but they aren’t always sure how. We’re often told by city officials not to just give, as they worry that it will perpetuate the problem of begging.

On the other hand, for the homeless, begging is degrading. We wanted to help them feel human again. For most, they have never had the choice of what to eat, where to sleep or even what to wear.

We wanted to bridge the gap: making it easy and safe to donate and dignified to receive. The middle ground we needed was right in front of us: the street.

The Street Store is made up of 5 posters. People bring their donations, which they “hang up” on our posters with a hanger design. And then “drop” shoes and accessories on our boxes. Shop assistants then give the homeless a full shopping experience.

We called for donations on social media, and soon we were trending nationwide, on news, TV and radio. Huffington Post caught wind of the store, and immediately we went global. In under a week we were on international news, blogs and radio. Our followers shared our goals. They wanted to help us help the homeless. They shared our posts, they asked friends to join, they even tagged news stations and celebrities asking them to get involved. Without social media, we would’ve stood on the side of the road, with empty cardboard posters and no donations.

Between our first two pop-ups, we clothed over 1800 homeless people.

Our aim was to help people. But what is the point if you only help a few? So we went open-source and made our designs and a how-to guide available online. We even used social media to crowd source translations for our posters. With the help of people from around the world, we’re can create change in a much bigger way than even we thought possible. An innovative way to help the homeless globally, by giving others a platform to start an initiative of their own.

To host your own Street Store, go to www.thestreetstore.org, take the pledge and off you go!

The Street Store