As the season of giving approaches, some enterprising New Yorkers have developed unique ways to help the homeless.
Do You Have One Dollar
Armed with a passion to see New Yorkers helping the homeless, Eric Briarley Grundy, 35, launched the "Do You Have One Dollar" campaign on Nov. 22.
"The campaign is a philanthropic social challenge to see if one million New Yorkers can give just $1 each to help the homeless," he said.
Grundy is a professional actor, singer, and songwriter who came to New York City from Connecticut 12 years ago. With a degree from the Hartford School of Music, he has performed on national tours of Les Miserables and My Fair Lady. When his son was born 3 years ago, Grundy realized that he wanted to do more with his life.
"My life purpose," he said, "is to be a good husband, a good father, to do my best to lead my family by serving God, and helping to draw humanity into a closer relationship with God through the arts and Do You Have One Dollar."
An Astoria resident, Grundy hopes to bring the campaign to other cities after it ends in NYC on Dec. 31.
Donations can be made online at DoYouHaveOneDollar.org or at various collection boxes around the city. All proceeds will go to the Bowery Mission, which helps the homeless renew their lives through a graduated life skills program.
One year ago, New York resident Anthony Thomas and his college friend Stephen Caldwell decided to combine business, fashion, and helping the homeless with a new company called KNO Clothing.
Featuring fair-trade, trendy T-shirts made from organic or eco-friendly materials, KNO Clothing donates one article of clothing to a needy person for every item it sells. In addition, the company works with local organizations like 100,000 Homes to support housing initiatives with its profits.
"[The homeless] actually need to get into a home to end homelessness," said Thomas, 26.
Launched in Philadelphia last year, the KNO Clothing has connected with non-profits in 130 towns across America, including New York City, Baltimore, and Los Angeles. Through these local organizations, the company has also donated over 500 articles of clothing and provided housing for more than 11,270.
In honor of its one-year anniversary, the company has launched a KNOvember campaign as it seeks to double its impact this holiday season.
New York City Urban Project
For those interested in giving time, the New York City Urban Project coordinates events such as the "Feed 500" event held at the Love Kitchen last Saturday.
Director Jonathan Walton, 25, says New Yorkers need to overcome misconceptions about homelessness.
"There's enough food, there's enough money, but there's not enough relationship," he said.
Volunteers with the urban project are taught to focus on the needs of the person they are caring for rather than preconceived notions of homelessness.
Walton graduated from Columbia University in 2008 with a degree in creative writing. In his sophomore year he raised close to $40,000 for children in Uganda from the sale of his second book, giving him the desire to continue to serve others.
"Why can't people love the world for a living?" he wondered.
Walton became the director of InterVarsity's New York City Urban Project in 2008 and has been mobilizing young people to help the city's impoverished.
Walton says college students wanting to have social impact should be patient and not be afraid to fail.
"Our generation does not like to wait for things, but the reality is that transformation takes time," he said. "That brokenness didn't just happen; it's been developing for generations."