Our short bio: Sleepless in Seattle is a grassroots initiative I started with a group of friends to purchase and distribute sleeping bags to every homeless person in Seattle & King County.

We have raised $48,492 of our $50,000 initial goal through our Indiegogo thus far in addition to an anonymous $25,000 1:1 matching grant. Any donations exceeding that $50,000 goal will allow us to purchase sleeping bags for the homeless in other counties in WA.

Take a look at some of our links: Indiegogo Crowdsourcing Campaign - Sleepless in Seattle is entirely a volunteer effort so 100% of donations minus transaction fees go towards sleeping bags purchased at bulk discount.

Seattle Times Article

KING 5/NBC Affiliate Video Story

We will be distributing the sleeping bags at our "Big Give" on Saturday 12/13 where 200 volunteers will break into 50 teams to distribute bags all across the county. Remaining sleeping bags will be given to our 20+ non-profit partners.

Please understand that we know that sleeping bags will not solve homelessness. We are just doing our small part to show a bit of love and keep those in our community warm for the winter.

My Proof: http://imgur.com/jgHc3xY Please compare image with Seattle Times article.

Comments: 62 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

Actual-Situation8 karma

(1) Are you also giving out contractor sized trash bags with the sleeping bags? I am from the PNW and am aware that rain is the biggest enemy of sleeping bags. I'll bet if you ask 10 educated people in survival up there if they would rather be left out in the rain with either a huge plastic bag for warmth or a sleeping bag they would pick the plastic. I know you'll say these people will find cover, but I have worked with the homeless community too, you are dealing with a lot of folks who will get as high or drunk as they possibly can, whenever they can, and inevitably pass out in the rain. Alternatively, many of them may have disabilities, mental or otherwise that prevent them from seeking appropriate cover. Once that bag gets wet it won't dry for days... which leads me to my second question

(2) When I worked with the homeless community, I was extremely sad the first time that I saw one of the things we had handed out months earlier in a trash pile near an overpass, mixed in with diapers, beer cans, etc. It will happen to you, too. I was emotionally affected by this at the time; my question for you is are YOU prepared for this emotionally, when you see the for the first time one of your sleeping bags floating in the puget sound, turned to litter?

eddie_centered8 karma

1) Good thought - I'll ask around to other non-profit agencies and see if that's something they would recommend as well.

2) Yes, I'm prepared for a portion of them to be littered. My perspective is if even 1/3 of the actual people who receive sleeping bags are able to make good use of it, that's a win. In essence, if it costs $60 to provide a sleeping bag to someone who can make good use of it, that's still something I'd see as worthwhile. Also, I've given a number of these out personally in the past and seem them put to good use over time.

If you're interested in coming out to help, feel free to sign up with one of the links below:

bit.ly/sleeplessleadersignup bit.ly/sleeplessvolunteersignup The leaders link is for people with experience working with or serving the homeless like yourself who would be comfortable leading a team of four.

thisguystaint4 karma

where will people put all of those sleeping bags?

eddie_centered7 karma

Variety of places - some have bigger backpacks already. Others find places they stash their goods. Some live in "tent cities" or other smaller communes of sorts that allow for general storage. Some have friends houses they store things at and sleeping on the streets is a periodic occasion. For some, this will expectedly be a challenge.

thisisnotmath4 karma

I have a couple extra sleeping bags that are cleaned and in good condition. Can I donate them your way?

Ableyoungthug3 karma

What made you want to start this project? Was there a person or event that prompted it?

eddie_centered7 karma

A lot of factors...

I was a student at the University of Washington and homelessness is a huge issue on and around campus. In my freshman year, I remember walking back from the gym one day and realizing that everything I did in life was completely for myself, so I decided to just go out on the streets and talk to people and see how I could help.

I ended up talking to a man on the way to a bar who was mourning the anniversary of his son's death. I ended up spending 2 hours with him hearing his story and learned that he had 4 months left to live as he was suffering from cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. The experience led me to volunteer with a number of non-profits and spend time with the homeless on my own. I found sleeping bags to be one of the most cost-effective ways to help someone and wanted to leverage crowdsourcing to be able to meet a greater need.

W-Cephei-15 karma

Everything in life is for yourself, please someone else altruistically, in fact, is to feel good about yourself.

eddie_centered24 karma

I would rather please myself by helping someone else than please myself by only helping myself.

throw-awaypls3 karma

Have you ever encountered issues trying to give people the sleeping bags? What I mean, have there been people that decline, because they "don't need your charity." Honest, sincere question.

eddie_centered8 karma

No one's ever responded with a "don't need your charity" kind of mentality. Some have declined as they frequent shelters or make use of other resources and simply don't need or want one. In that case, they often refer a friend who could use one.

Freakinbuttons2 karma

why not try to build a shelter or warm clothes instead of giving them sleeping bags?

eddie_centered10 karma

It's an issue of cost-effectiveness. Building a shelter is a 1M+ endeavor with lots of ongoing admin costs and volunteer hours. That's not to say we shouldn't be building more shelters, but that simply that sleeping bags are a stopgap solution in the mean time we can do to help. There's a substantial shortage in available housing/shelter opportunities that cannot be easily met in our community.

NickRebootPlz2 karma

What a fantastic idea and fantastic work!

As someone starting a non-profit, what has been the hardest part? Did you already have experience in NP? Was there much of a learning curve? Do you have any resources you could recommend to anyone who also has an idea to help the community?

Do you get your bags wholesale, or are you connected with a business who gives you bags at a better rate? If so, I'd love to give them my business next time I purchase a bag.

eddie_centered2 karma

Thanks NickRebootPlz! Hardest part of doing this as a grassroots volunteer initiative is that working entirely with volunteers can be challenging. I've had to put in a lot of late night hours to see this campaign through and others have likewise been incredibly generous with their time. My day job is rather complicated to describe, but it is technically in non-profits and affords me the opportunity to meet a lot of people in my community which has been really helpful.

Best tips I'd give would be to validate your idea with your peers. I started off my drafting up an executive summary and sending it off to 40 trusted friends and peers for feedback. If at all possible, try to get some press. With Seattle Times and the KING 5 story, we were able to pull in $13,305 donations in a single day. If you're willing to share your idea, might be able to offer some additional feedback as well.

Yes I get the bags wholesale. I will PM you with details.

TheCthulhu2 karma

Are you the guy that Tom Hanks played?

eddie_centered1 karma

Truth be told, I've never even seen the movie...

wepudsax2 karma

Why are there so many homeless people in Seattle? I lived near Broadway and Denny on capitol hill for a while, and was nearly overwhelmed by it. Is it a conscientious decision and way of life for many of them?

eddie_centered1 karma

I'm sure there are a ton of factors that goes into this beyond my own understanding. One thing to note is that Seattle is the fastest growing city in the USA and subsequently has seen the steepest rent increases among these cities. This leads to a very challenging environment for those on the fringes. Seattle has seen its homeless population increase every year for at least a couple of years.


Jasperblu1 karma

Because we feed them all over the city at many shelters, soup kitchens, etc. Because they're allowed to camp wherever they want, and for the most part, law enforcement looks the other way. Because health care is obtainable. Because drugs are obtainable. Because there is very little in terms of mental health care (forced or free) to get these folks off the streets and back on their meds, if they need them. Because, despite the rain, it's actually NOT that cold here compared to large cities in the mid-west or east coast - where not only are they run off regularly by law enforcement, but the residents themselves aren't very keen on having them about. Seattle LOVES their homeless population. Sometimes, I think we downright encourage it. So yeah. It's a major problem here, that no one seems to care that much about. At least not in terms of eradicating it.

Also, I'll bet you money that 50% (probably a lot more) of those sleeping bags will be discarded as soaking wet and useless items within a month. You might seriously consider the suggestion above re: giving something more useful for keeping a homeless person dry and warm. Or, redirect your efforts and buy them proper rain hoodies/panchos, or backpacks that are outfitted with a towel, peanut butter, baby wipes, nuts, dried fruit, a lighter, etc. Just a thought.

Otherwise, I applaud you for your good intentions and hope it really works out better than I think it will.

eddie_centered1 karma

I think you're probably right about a substantial portion of these sleeping bags being discarded within a month, but for me, I focus on the other half of the people who will benefit from this. Even if the effective cost of providing one sleeping bag to someone who needs it and can make use of it long-term is $60, that seems like a bargain to me. Keep in mind that running homeless shelters is very expensive by comparison - not to say that sleeping bags are in any way superior to a shelter.

duckboobs2 karma

Awesome idea. I moved here from Philly in July and was surprised at how much more prevalent and visible the homelessness is here compared to there. The company I work for us based in Seattle with HQ in Pioneer Square and we make a monthly donation to a local cause in addition to monthly Kiva and laptop donations across the U.S. I'd love to nominate this cause for our November donation, but not sure I can get it on their radar before the indiegogo is up in 5 days. Any way to contribute once that's up? PM me if there's additional details. Good luck!

eddie_centered2 karma

Will do - thanks for reaching out duckboobs!

smiljan1 karma

It has seemed like there's a sudden increase in the numbers of homeless folks with tents this year. Is that you guys too? Both tents and sleeping bags seem like great ideas.

eddie_centered1 karma

Nope! 12/13 will be the first time we do our part. Very cool to hear that more and more people are finding some form of shelter though.

seattleandrew1 karma

Posting here because this seems more appropriate than the local subreddit.

Do you need any more volunteers? What about donating sleeping bags?

eddie_centered1 karma

bit.ly/sleeplessleadersignup The leaders link is for people with experience working with or serving the homeless who would be comfortable leading a team of four.

bit.ly/sleeplessvolunteersignup The volunteer link is for anyone high school age or above with an interest in helping out. No prior experience required.

climatematters1 karma

What you're doing is wonderful. I wonder if it would help with awareness, if you directed even 5% of the proceeds to a long-term structural solution? I think this would help, a lot, with civic education on the issue, as the message it would send is that short term aid, while necessary and admirable, by itself is not enough.

The other thing I'd wonder, is are there simple, compact-when-dismantled, one-man "mummy tents" that protect the sleeping bag and not too much else? Because protecting them from getting wet does seem like a good way to make your impact last longer.

eddie_centered2 karma

Interesting thought! We went with sleeping bags as it was very easy to explain. In some ways, it makes for an easier story for press to be able to pick up on when it's dead simple. One thing we've been acknowledging throughout this campaign is that this is by no means a long-term structural solution. I think there's something to be said for focusing your efforts on one thing and doing it really, really well.

Additionally, the secondary goal of this campaign is simply to raise awareness and encourage people in our community to care of one another in obvious, immediate ways. I think there's something so powerful and compelling about simply offering friendship to someone, and I'd love to see more of that emerge as part of the "long-term solution."

To be honest, I haven't looked much into tents. Do you have any ideas on what might work well? Even if it were a viable option, it might be a little late as the money designated through the campaign is specifically for sleeping bags.

battlesnarf1 karma

Is it too late to sign up to volunteer?

eddie_centered2 karma

Nope! You can use these links to do so:

bit.ly/sleeplessvolunteersignup bit.ly/sleeplessleadersignup The leader signup is for those with experience working with or serving the homeless who would be comfortable leading a team of four.

Drunky_Brewster1 karma

Is all the money you raised going to purchase sleeping bags? Have you contacted other organizations that are doing this as well, such as Divas for Dignity, to work with an already established group who has been raising money for this cause as well?

eddie_centered6 karma

Yes, outside of Indiegogo transaction fees. Everyone involved with the project is doing it on a 100% volunteer basis. We'll be able to buy sleeping bags at $15-$20 in bulk inclusive of tax/shipping. We've partnered with 20+ organizations to help with distribution but have not contacted Divas for Dignity. From a cursory look, it seems like Divas for dignity focuses on women's hygiene and beauty needs.

Drunky_Brewster-7 karma

Their focus currently is getting blankets and sleeping bags for those in the jungle, not just women's beauty needs. It's a shame that you can dismiss them so quickly for doing the same work as you are.

eddie_centered6 karma

Sorry, I was unaware. I took a look at a number of the pages and didn't see any references to that. I saw their mission which was stated as "Dignity For Divas mission is to provide personal care items to homeless women in the greater Seattle area." I'll reach out to them. Thanks for letting me know, Drnky_Brewster!

nobs000 karma

Why not help them find a job?

eddie_centered6 karma

Don't think it's an either/or proposition. I would say let's do both. The challenge for the homeless in finding jobs comes with lack of experience/skills, no housing/clothes to hold a job, substance abuse sometimes, criminal record, or simply having appropriate ID. There are a lot of systematic factors that go into job hunting for these folks.

fredbnh0 karma

Hats off to you and your cohorts. I hope there aren't any issues legally, Ah La the guy in Miami who was arrested for giving out food to the homeless. Any legal problems using "Sleepless in Seattle" for your project? Have you made any attempt to contact Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan to get them on board? Thanks for doing what you're doing.

eddie_centered1 karma

Thanks fredbnh! Not yet on the legal problems haha... Wouldn't surprise me if something came up but hoping that doesn't happen. I have not tried to contact Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan, but that would be a good idea. Let me know if you have any ideas on the best way to reach people like them.

Mantisbog-1 karma

what's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

eddie_centered2 karma

Baskin Robbins chocolate chip. I like the way they drizzle chocolate into almost a bark like texture as opposed to the more conventional homogeneous chip approach.