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Youth Groups in São Paulo Mobilize Donations to the Homeless

07/03/2015 - 10h13

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JAIRO MARQUES
FROM SÃO PAULO

People living on the streets of São Paulo were surprised in the early hours of last Wednesday, July 1st, with a new mobilization: they received scarves made by children who represent the opposite of their realities, students at Porto Seguro school, one of the country's top schools.

In addition to the heavy clothing for winter time, they were given cupcakes, blankets and a kit with toothbrush, toothpaste, condoms, soap, socks, mineral water, a packet of biscuits and a sandwich.

The mobilization was organized by "Entrega por São Paulo" or "Giving to São Paulo", an organization that uses social networks to recruit volunteers and endorse donations.

About a year ago, there were eight friends involved. In the last intervention, 200 volunteers signed up and managed to collect enough material for 650 kits -while they organized an open air charity party at the Charles Miller Square, in downtown Sâo Paulo.

"We are not connected to any religion, to any political parties or any companies. This helps motivate people to believe more in the idea, to join in," says Lucas Caldeira Brant Tolentino, 31, an intervention leader.

The only requirement to participate in the interventions, which take place once a month, is to be over 18 years old.

The volunteers -most of them young middle class individuals- are divided into six distribution centers in strategic areas such as the Minhocão, a 2.2-mile long elevated highway that nestles many homeless people under it, as well as Ceagesp, itself a food distribution center.

"We have an attitude of respect for the people living on the streets and to those who want to chat, talk about life and receive the kit, we give all the attention. To those who do not want to do these things, we just leave the donations and walk away," said Marcela Branco, 26, one of the organization's coordinator.

Biologist Amanda Francisco, 21, participated for the first time. She found out about the movement through Facebook and decided to take part with three friends of similar ages.

Cledson Danilo, 32, has been living on the streets of the Santa Cecilia neighborhood for four months (in the downtown area) and was given a scarf. "This is wonderful", is what he said about the initiative.

Translated by CRISTIANE COSTA LIMA

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