Homelessness has become a critical issue in Seattle as the city continues to evolve and grapple with growth and affordability. The plight of those on the city’s streets is especially glaring when juxtaposed against the increase in tech workers filling well-paying jobs at any number of companies.
Workers at Facebook’s Seattle office have launched an initiative aimed at doing something to aid those in need. During October and November, the company is focusing on helping the homeless with the hope that as employees are exposed to a variety of causes, they will find programs that they feel particularly empathetic toward, and will continue to engage with that charity going forward.
Facebook says that when a cause is “in focus,” the entire office marches in that direction: there are relevant guest speakers to educate employees about the issues; Facebookers work with local partners to understand how they can efficiently help; and donations and resources are collected to help the cause.
Thursday night, staff members and their families packed 1,000 care packages that will be delivered to local homeless individuals. The individual bags contained items such as socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes, snacks and more. Facebook is also hosting a drive this month to collect new and used clothing, non-perishable foods and diapers.
“We are a data driven company and so want to help in the most efficient way we can,” said Facebook engineer Nick Berry, a former GeekWire Geek of the Week and coordinator of the initiative. “For instance, during our homeless campaign, rather than collecting random things we think people might need, we’ve sent out ambassadors to various homeless camps, and partnered with existing aid givers to understand the actual urgent needs. We’ve then created ‘shopping lists’ for these asks and shared them with the office so that employees, and their families, can efficiently contribute.”