Using social media to help the homeless
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
It seems like such a simple idea. Get some people together and make lunches, then hand them out to the homeless—combat hunger by actually giving people food. Though it may be simple, it is effective, and that’s exactly what the people at #HashtagLunchbag are doing. Combining the power of social media with philanthropy, they have created a global movement that’s starting to take root right here in Vancouver.
Though the movement began in Los Angeles, the local Vancouver chapter of #HashtagLunchbag holds events several times a year, issuing a callout over social media, asking for volunteers to come out early in the morning and make hundreds of paper bag lunches that they will then distribute to the homeless population.
When asked what inspired him and his friends to create such a movement, founder Ajay Relan told the Other Press, “We were simply looking for a way to give back and found it difficult to lock down an opportunity in our area, so we decided to do it ourselves, while making it simple and fun. We quickly realized that what we unintentionally created wasn’t about food or homelessness, but humanity itself and the need for acknowledgement on all levels.”
What makes #HashtagLunchbag so unique is its creative use of social media. As any other 20-something has heard a thousand times before, we are constantly being told that our use of technology has made us apathetic and disconnected from the world around us. What #HashtagLunchbag shows us is that this is not true; that how we interact with the world, and how we choose to give back to it has evolved somewhat, and that we now have the tools to effect change on a far larger scale.
When asked about the social media component to the movement, Relan said “Through social media, we realized that for the first time in human history, each individual has the ability to inspire someone. Whether you have 10 friends or followers or 10-million, you never know who is watching and what you can inspire them to do. Our mission is simply to encourage others to integrate compassion and empathy [into] their daily lives, and by sharing these experiences watch the world around them (both physical and digital) shift around them. That is what Living Through Giving is all about.”
To find out more about #HashtagLunchbag you can visit their website at HashtagLunchbag.org, or check out their Twitter or Instagram, @hashtaglunchbag.