Local man uses Facebook to help the homeless

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- John Shafer has made it a personal mission to hand deliver blankets and clothing items, such as coats, scarfs, and gloves to keep the homeless warm this winter. He was just at the Center for the Homeless dropping off donations and he has been getting most of the donations via his Facebook page.

Rodney Rabel of Nappanee said, "There's a mother with three children laying there on the street for the night and that's where they were going to be sleeping and we thought- we have to do more than this!"

Rabel said that's one of the reasons why his friend John Shafer came up with the Facebook group "Chicago Five for the Homeless".

Shafer said he originally started the group as a way to draw attention to the homeless problem in the Windy City.

Shafer said since launching the page three months ago, "I've gained a lot of friends, family and supporters."

And he's also gained a lot of winter donations, such as blankets, hats, scarfs and gloves.

Shafer and Rabel have traveled to Chicago and back three time so far during the past two months to deliver warm clothing and blankets to homeless people they find curled up in store fronts along the shopping district downtown. In fact Sunday they just got back around 5 a.m. from their last trip.

"If we can give them one blanket, some hats, some gloves, to help them survive the night so they don't freeze, I figured that's what I can do," said Shafer.

Rabel said, "With the city the size it is and all that it has to offer, it is really sad to see that they (Chicago) can't do more for their homeless."  

Shafer and Rabel stopped by the Center for the Homeless in South Bend to deliver some of the donations they received that they said were more suitable for the homeless who live in a shelter.

They both agree with Chicago being a lot bigger, so is their homeless problem and the need for help. 

Shafer said, "More people are actually turned away from the shelter than they take in. As winter is approaching, they are going to need blankets and winter clothing to survive the winter because a lot of them have to sleep on the streets. You can't just keep walking past them, at least for me, the compassion I feel, I got to do something. And that's what motivates me to give me the passion to keep going and to keep this growing as large as we can." 

Shafer is looking for churches or organizations throughout Michiana to act as drop sites where the community could drop items they would like to donate to "Chicago Five for the Homeless". 

They plan to go back to Chicago next weekend.

If you are interested in donating items get on Facebook and like the "Chicago Five for the Homeless" page. 

Shafer chose the name for the group with the theory if every person in Chicago donated just $5 to fight homelessness the problem would be handled on its own. 

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