Concerned about the homeless in the recent frigid weather, a Kennett High School senior traveled to Philadelphia Monday in search of them, wanting to make a difference.
“I woke up in the morning and looked at the temperature gauge outside my bedroom window, and saw it was 12 degrees,” said Evan Jones. “I thought about homeless people and I felt terrible. I wanted to do something.”
Jones, an avid outdoorsman who does a lot of hiking, realized he has many coats — many that were never worn — that could be put to good use. So he packed a lot of them into his car and headed into Philly with good intentions on his mind after looking up the location of homeless shelters.
But when he got there, they were all empty.
“I was going to give up and drive home, but I stopped by Love Park in Rittenhouse Square and I saw some people walking down the street, looking scraggly,” he said.
Jones asked the man if he has any other friends, and as they walked to a nearby library, he came across three other homeless people. He decided to take them all to McDonald’s for lunch.
Jones told them they could have anything off the menu. Many of them asked for only one thing off the menu, but Jones told them they could have whatever they wanted. One ordered three Big Macs, others McChickens and large fries. The lunch tab totaled more than $75.
While at lunch, Jones asked them how they came to be in such a precarious position.
“After hearing their stories, realized all of them had families,” Jones said. “But all of them were also drug addicts and alcoholics. I asked one man how he got scars on his head and arms and he said he was sleeping outside a bar when guys came out and thought it would be funny to beat him up.”
Two more homeless people came into McDonald’s, and Jones bought them lunch as well. One was a young homeless woman, who offered Jones a handful of condoms in exchange for a dollar so she could buy a sandwich. Jones told her she could keep the condoms and bought her lunch.
After lunch he gave them coats so they could stay warm. In all, he helped 10 homeless people Monday. He even bought several of them cigarettes after they had asked.
“The experience was very moving to me,” Jones said. “I never volunteered at a soup kitchen and I didn’t do this because someone told me to. It brought me joy to see their smiling faces. Never underestimate how good giving back makes you feel, because I spent about $75 to make the lives of 10 people extremely happy.”
Jones, who hopes to study journalism in college, said he hopes to return soon and gather additional experiences so he can write a book, with the proceeds going to help the homeless.
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