2 years ago, Caleb Olson embarked on a Bike Cruisade across America from New York to San Francisco to raise awareness about Street Soccer USA, a non-profit organization which uses soccer to fight homelessness. Now, the 31-year-old is taking on a personal mission to help those in need right at home.
With a reported 61, 931 homeless people spending the night at New York City shelters every day, Olson has been delivering any article of clothing from socks to jackets directly to anyone he can find on the street. "I started with my own closet. Then, friends started meeting up with me with their own blankets, food, and clothes," he said.
Equipped with nothing more than his trusty bike, two big panniers, and backpack, this humble Brooklyn resident is going on Day 14 of his 30 Days of Giving goal to successfully donate at least one item to someone for 30 days. "I love being on the bicycle. I'm on it 20-miles a day or more. All throughout the day you see people in need and wish you had something," Olson said. The bike has been his usual mode of transportation since it's easier to find people in need on the streets, in addition to the ability to carry more items.
Despite not always having a planned route, outreach in his spare time has taken him through various neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens on the search to help. The end result has been establishing a "real human connection with somebody" while knowing the donations are being received and used first-hand.
These interactions tend to lead to 5-10 minute discussions, often learning about their stories and families. It has taken Olson to some personal discovery. "I'm learning more and more about myself. It reminds me to not give up and make excuses for something you really feel in your heart that you need to be doing," he explained.
When asked about the purpose of these 30 Days of Giving, he replied "It's about inspiring others to go do something for someone else, whether it's giving them something or not. A handshake, hello, or looking someone in the eye and letting them know and feel that they're human can lighten the day for them and for you, as well."
Olson hopes to create a social cycling club that brings people together and connect excess goods with people in need on the streets.
"Hopefully by sharing this experience, people can take a step back from what's going on in America and in the world," he said. "No matter what injustices there are - you can do a little bit to be positive and make a change."
If you'd like to help or join Olson in his mission, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Facebook page.