Hackers for the Homeless: Anonymous Operation Brings Help to the Streets

A homeless man sleeps on Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange on Dec. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Anonymous hacktivists go after terrorists through the #OpISIS and #OpJihadi campaigns, de-hood white supremacists with #OpKKK and wage war against pedophile rings through #OpDeathEaters.

When the temperature falls and those with the least have nowhere to go, hackers have been stepping in to help through #OpSafeWinter.

The operation started in 2013, and kicked off this year on Dec. 10. A call for action posted online instructed Anonymous and allies to “go out and FLOOD THE STREETS WITH KINDNESS!!” — not just on Christmas, but every day of the cold months.

“With so many of us coming together, this will be an unprecedented operation this year. While some might choose to only help during the week of Christmas, others continually help throughout the colder months. Yes, Christmas is a very important time of year for many of those living on the streets and for families who cant afford much. Please pay a little extra attention to those during that time,” said the message. “Often times you don’t even need to spend any money because for many, the company of others is worth more than gold. Just going an extra mile to show someone that others DO care about them.”

That could be through giving the needy food, clothing, toys or a hot cup of coffee.

“Conversation is key. Try to show a little humanity. Many of those who you may find on the streets are veterans of war. Those who have lost friends and families. Those who still see unimaginable things when they close their eyes. At the very least you can do is acknowledge their existence,” the Anonymous call to action continued, adding that the operation demonstrates that the hacktivist collective “is not just an online-based entity.”

“We are your friends. We are your brothers, your sisters, we are everywhere and nowhere. But this winter we will be on the streets. Helping where needed… this could change the lives of many. This could be the year that someone helped them. Countless Christmases on the street, countless nights sleeping in the cold. Then a stranger out of nowhere came and shined a ray of hope. Brought them some warm soup, fresh socks and gloves.”

Other suggested items to bring to people living on the street include sleeping bags, tents, toiletries, bottled water, blankets and bagged lunches.

South Texas Anonymous and Houston Anonymous, for example, held a drive on Dec. 17 to collect items for the homeless. They advised #OpSafeWinter volunteers to go out and give necessities to the poor in groups of three or more for safety, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Volunteers are also warned that giving a homeless person a new item of clothing, as opposed to a used jacket, can put that person at risk of being mugged for the new item.

They’re also urged to save major item donations, such as tents or sleeping bags, for a day other than Christmas weekend.

“In some urban areas, many of the people who are on the street on the weekend before Christmas and on Christmas Day may not homeless. They only pretend to be homeless and are on the street to get free blankets, sleeping bags, coats and similar items which they plan to sell at the swap meet. Hand out the sleeping bags and similar items at least a week on either side of Christmas, when the real homeless people will get them,” the Texas Anonymous groups advised.

Thought should go into which items are brought to the homeless, too. “Many of them have significant dental problems and cannot eat items that require a mouth filled with good teeth, such as apples. They can usually handle bananas, tangerines and oranges.” Candy can be similarly problematic, especially with drug addicts.

Volunteers are advised to check with their municipality for any ordinances regarding handing out food on the street.

“Get to know the poor and homeless. Spend time with them. Ask them their names, and remember them. Tell them yours. Shake their hands. Be open and friendly. Hug them.
Hug those who want hugged. Allow them to tell their stories. Listen. Remember,” said the Anons.

“The poor and homeless are our equals. Honor them, respect them, and treat them as our brothers and sisters. Feel honored that they are willing to share their lives with you and that you have the opportunity to spend time with them.”