My name is Austin Davis and I’m a 20 year old poet, student at ASU and the Community Outreach Coordinator for Arizona Jews For Justice. I lead our unsheltered outreach project, AZ Hugs For the Houseless, and every week I travel to The Zone in Phoenix, along with other cities across AZ, and I have conversations with folks and hand out care packs, water, food, blankets, jackets, sleeping bags, and other items to help keep people warm.
Each care pack includes a handmade face mask, hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, deodorant, a razor, a pair of socks, feminine hygiene products, non-perishable food, and other essential items.
We started this project after visiting The Zone shortly after the pandemic began to dramatically impact our state at the end of March, 2020. We saw that many people didn’t have face masks or sanitary items necessary to keep them safe from the virus.
From there, the project really just grew. We currently collaborate and have partnered with ASU Project Humanities, Let’s Be Better Humans, The International Rescue Committee, and many amazing volunteers and humans all over the state.
Our project is organic and completely community led. Folks join me to deliver, donate items, make care packs from home, and everyone is pitching in to help in whatever way they can. It’s so beautiful and it inspires me every day to keep going and keep trying to reach more and more people.
In addition to providing unsheltered community members with essential items, a major part of what we do involves having conversations, listening to people, and becoming friends with them. I ask people what they want the most right in that moment, and then I bring them those items on my next delivery, in collaboration with our community and their donations and generosity.
Whether it’s a hand mirror, a green suitcase, a warm dinner, work boots, being able to listen to their favorite song, a Chicken Soup For the Soul book, medicine, a fuel pump for a car, or even a pack of Q-tips or band-aids, I’ve seen firsthand how happy and loved this small act makes people feel.
If you would like to get involved with our project by volunteering from home and making care packs or by delivering out in the world with me and my team, please send me an email at [email protected] ❤️