Operation Homeless is a great local homeless charity to give to this holiday season. Senior Accounting and Finance student at IUPUI, Jake Watrous, founded the charity. He was assisted by Steven Curry, a senior at IU studying Management and also Law and Public Policy. These two launched Operation Homeless in 2012 and have been changing lives ever since.
Watrous started this as a social experiment with his friends’ senior year of high school. Among those friends was Steven Curry. During this social experiment they both mention that they were “very moved” by what he saw and knew they had to do something, and that is when they came up with the idea for Operation Homeless. Curry mentions how this charity has influenced him, “Operation Homeless has caused me to continue to pursue my love for missions work. With the experience and success from Operation Homeless it has pushed me to work even harder to expand the charity.” Until then they will continue making a difference in downtown Indianapolis around the holiday season. The overall goal for this charity is to make someone’s holiday a little bit brighter.
This winter season they plan to make a trip to Indianapolis to distribute care packages as they have done in years past. These care packages are put together by a group of individuals that are willing to donate their time and money into making a few people’s lives better. The charity money goes into these packages which are backpacks filled with essentials. These bags include things such as; water, winter attire, a fleece blanket, band aids, packaged foods and drinks, Subway gift cards, tooth brush and paste, chapstick, cough drops, tissues, hand sanitizer (alcohol free), travel sized shampoo, a bar of soap and much more. Last year they raised $1400 and were able to put together 24 backpacks. Every year they plan to improve from the prior year, and that has so far been possible by the continuous growing support for the charity. Usually these groups of Hoosiers take these care packages around New Year’s or early January. They have not yet set a date for this years outing, but if you are interested in participating in making a difference in the homeless community, stay tuned.
Operation Homeless makes it easy to help out our homeless community. They also take donations in clothing and living essentials for care packages. Operation Homeless started off with a few high school students trying to make a difference and has now grown greatly with the support and dedication from many people in our communities. Many people donate but the high school and college students tend to be the demographic that is more willing to put their time into helping put together the bags and pass them out downtown. Watrous and Curry do not see that for the future though. They plan to continue growing the group and “ultimately, anyone wanting to help is highly encouraged and we won’t turn down a helping hand,” said Curry. In doing so you will experience many heartbreaking stories but also, many heartwarming people.
Jake Watrous has had many eye opening experiences with this charity. Going out and seeing all the people in the homeless community makes you realize how things really are in the world. He says, “Many of us are too fortunate to realize the struggles [these] every day people go through.” He mentions that a lot of the homeless are “former addicts, veterans, or suffer from mental disorders.” According to studies done by The United States Conference of Mayors who collected data from 25 cities that responded to a survey, among the homeless single adults community 68% are homeless due to substance abuse, 48% are mentally ill, and 28% are unemployed (Hunger and Homeless Survey). These statistics comply with Watrous’ statement. Many of these statistics go hand-in-hand which makes up for the overlapping of percentages. For example, many veterans are homeless due to the lack of employment because of mental issues they may have from their experiences in the military, army, air force, etc. About 40% of homeless men are veterans compared to the general male population in America 34% are veterans (The Facts and Figures: The Homeless). Watrous says he has heard many stories about their journeys and their struggles of how they got to where they are. He and Curry both have encountered people refusing the kind gestures.
There is a stereotype that many homeless people can be aggressive and not very grateful to the people that try to help them. Steven mentioned that he has never encountered an ungrateful person, and does not feel like he has ever been in a situation where he felt that he was in danger. He describes one of his most humbling experiences, it was Operation Homeless’ first year out and they were passing out winter coats and a man that had nothing but the clothes on his back refused to take the jacket and told him to give it to someone who needs it more than him. Curry mentions that he does a lot to help out not just in his community but also around the world. He has been on many mission trips but says “those that are homeless and in poverty will always have a soft spot in my heart.”
If donating to a charity is something you would be interested in Operation Homeless is the way to go. Watous and Curry both agree that it is very rewarding being a part of something that helps the lives of those in need. Curry said, “[Over the years] The homeless community has shown so much gratitude towards us and it is extremely humbling to see the difference we are making.” Everyone is able to make a difference. Make sure to reach out to Jake Watrous or Steven Curry for more information on their charity. Watrous brings it all together by explaining what the most rewarding part for him is, “I think the most rewarding part would be the fact that it brings a ton of people together for a cause greater than any one of us.” If you are looking to donate this holiday season donate your time or money to Operation Homeless. Those in need will thank you, you will not only better yourself as a person; you will better the lives of those in need.
If anyone is interested in donating to the charity you can visit their GoFundMe Page and donate that way. Also, if anyone would like to participate in putting together and handing out the care packages this winter all you have to do is go to their website and contact either Jake Watrous or Steven Curry.
“You go into it thinking that you’re going to be giving back to these people, but in the end you receive just as much in return,” says Jake Watrous
Operation Homeless Website: