It’s an experience most city dwellers are very familiar with. You arrive at a red light and are approached by someone asking for assistance, generally money. Some people purposely stare straight ahead and try to ignore the other person. Others happily give whatever cash or change they can spare, though in the age of credit cards and phone wallets, that is becoming less common. One Dallas, TX resident has taken an entirely different approach that is turning heads and warming hearts in the homeless community.
Resa Willis has created the packs for the homeless project, an endeavor which entails raising funds for and putting together care packages for the homeless in the Dallas area. The packs, which contain food, beverage, hygiene, safety, and clothing items are tailored to the season and distributed mostly by Resa from her car while she is commuting. The project, which began in Winter of 2018, was originally suggested as part of an outreach effort for the local Libertarian party.
“As the former Outreach Chair of my local party, I suggested this type of project as something we could band together to do,” Resa states. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t gain much interest at the time. As a result, Resa decided to take on the project herself. Since then, it has expanded into three rounds per year of 50-100 packs worth anywhere from $10-25 each. The funds for the packs come mostly from direct donations of cash or supplies from others that see her fundraising requests on social media or in libertarian circles.
In addition, for this election cycle, she has run her pet iguana, Dulap Nelson, for a position as the Chair(lizard) of the Libertarian National Committee. The funds raised by this political campaign via donations and merchandise sales have helped with the purchase of additional packs. And it didn’t hurt that Dulap earned four votes in the contest.
Not bad for a handsome and well-fed lizard.
The benefits of all of this fund-raising and work are well worth it for Resa.
“Seeing firsthand the reactions from people receiving these supplies has been heartwarming and humbling,” Resa says. “It truly highlights how blessed many of us are, especially when some of the basic things we take for granted are luxuries to others.”
It is, in fact, hard not to be humbled when witnessing a mountain of these homeless packs and knowing that one or more of them might soon make a big impact on someone’s life. This is very well evidenced by some of the stories that Resa has shared on her social media.
“I handed out one pack and when I was coming back that way again, the guy had the blanket spread out like a tablecloth over a raised concrete slab, and had all of the food items laid out like a feast and was praying over the food.”
And in another post, Resa writes, “[I] gave out a pack to a guy on the corner today. He opened it, pulled out the socks, and kissed them. I think next time I do this, I’ll get extra socks.”
Indeed, socks aren’t the only treasures that are included in the packs. While the actual contents vary based on the season and donations given, Resa is diligent about putting in supplies that can help make life bearable on the streets, including toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, deodorant, mylar blankets, lip balm, sunscreen, feminine care products and more. On rare occasions, she gets the opportunity to give a lot more, such as the Winter 2019 packs that were delivered in brand new EastWest backpacks.
The success of this project and the lives that it has touched has not gone unnoticed. Resa reports that several people across the country have seen the outcome of this project and are endeavoring to replicate its success. She hopes to organize the project into a 501(c)3 to entice more donations and, thus, more packs to hand out. She invites people to contact her directly via email or by visiting her Facebook to either arrange a donation or ask how to replicate this project in your area.
Ultimately, she says, it’s about voluntaryism. We can’t just talk about principles, personal responsibility, and ideal utopias. We have to begin to do those things in real life.