A file photo of a blanket distribution drive in NOIDA.(Photo: Sunil Ghosh/HT)
A file photo of a blanket distribution drive in NOIDA.(Photo: Sunil Ghosh/HT)

Helping the homeless: Stories of selfless deeds that will warm your heart

A hot meal or a warm blanket cost nothing to most of us, but can be lifesavers for thousands living on the streets, with no roof above their head. Here’s how some good samaritans are helping spread warmth this winter.
By Etti Bali | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 27, 2020 05:01 PM IST

This winter, help spread warmth to those who need it most. Homeless, daily wage workers and those who have lost their homes to calamities are the worst hit. And if the cold weather wasn’t enough, they have Covid19 to battle with everyday.

As Rahul Verma, founder, Uday Foundation, rightly points, it is a four-pronged fight. “We are fighting Covid19, hunger, pollution and winter. The least we can do is not ignore what is happening around us. We can’t save people from Covid19, but we help prepare them to face it. For a person living on the street, a warm blanket is a reassurance that there is someone who cares about him,” he says. Relief work is community-based, and volunteers and other good Samaritans add to the task force. “You just have to reach out and people are willing to help. We have conducted distribution drives with armed forces personnel of Delhi Poilce, Jammu and Kashmir Police, BRO, Rashtriya Rifles to name a few,” he shares. Verma and his team help provide blankets, clothing, over-the-counter medicines, masks and sanitisers in addition to several other supplies.

 

The importance of a shelter in winter cannot be emphasized enough, and then there are those who have been rendered homeless due to either calamities or demolition drives. Avani Gupta, a former data scientist quit her job at the beginning of the pandemic to help rebuild their homes. “I have distributed blankets in Bhopura and Bhowapur in Ghaziabad, and GB Road. I have also provided them with tarpaulin, utensils, clothes, wall paints and electricity supplies so that they can rebuild their homes,” she says. As for funds, she seeks help from crowdfunding sources. “Till now I was sustaining on personal funds, but now I have to ask for crowdfunding,” she adds.

Social distancing norms are being followed at food distribution drives. (Photo: Yogendra Kumar/HT)
Social distancing norms are being followed at food distribution drives. (Photo: Yogendra Kumar/HT)

Vickey Sharma, an engineer who quit his job in Australia to help people in his homeland, surveys the streets every night, rescuing people in need. “We have a meeting every night and plan our route. We shift people in shelters, hospitalize those who need it, distribute masks and sanitisers, and provide food. We give them blankets and warm clothing,” he says, adding that the zeal to keep going comes from the duty towards his fellow citizens. “Yeh zaroori nahi ki lakh rupaya kamaana hai; hazaar rupaye kamaa lenge, lekin Hindustan mein jo vyakti hai uski help karenge,” he says.

People sit in rows as essentials are distributed to them. (Photo: Sanchit Khanna/HT )
People sit in rows as essentials are distributed to them. (Photo: Sanchit Khanna/HT )

Digital marketing specialist Asad Zaidi, along with some friends, aims to distribute 1,0000 blankets every night. “Our campaign is called #BlanketOfLove. We have 10-15 cars which we load with blankets and set off looking for people who need them the most. We enlist help from some NGOs in identifying these places and people,” he says, adding that everything is self-funded and the group pitches in from their own savings.

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