(CBS) — Call it a Millennial’s approach to giving back.
Barrett Blackman and some of his Twentysomething peers hand out sandwiches and a “Lil’ Somethin” more. As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, they’re offering hope to the homeless.
In a Humboldt Park dining room, they’re packing lunches.
“So, it’s a little something of this or it’s a little something of that — just whatever we might have that day,” Blackman explains.
He says he founded his group, A Lil’ Somethin, after getting the runaround when he tried to volunteer with other organizations. He made the decision to go it alone, packing up lunches once a week to hand out to homeless Chicagoans.
He quickly got other requests. “The main thing they’ve asked for consistently is socks.”
Also, toilet paper, backpacks and feminine products. He packs it all up in suitcases and then hauls everything downtown.
“I haven’t missed a week since I started because I know they are going to be looking for me. We’re wanting to help these specific people that we see because we know they really appreciate it and they really need it,” Blackman says.
One recent day, Tellez hit the streets with Blackman and the friends he’s recruited. He quickly found people in need. His first person in need: a woman sitting on the sidewalk on Michigan Avenue.
“Would you like anything to eat today?” Blackman asks, offering other items.
The woman responds: “You are darling, thank you.”
A few steps more, and Blackman finds a regular.
“Hi, Amanda, how are you?” he asks.
Blackman and his troops offer food, toilet paper, and a CTA card.
“Right on! You are awesome,” Amanda Crawford says.
She later tells Tellez she’s impressed that the young people willing to get close to the homeless.
“You’d be surprised at how many people actually do ignore the homeless,” she says. “We don’t exist in their eyes.”
Freddie Brown, like so many of the others, is happy with the goodies, but it’s the Lil’ Somethin extra that may mean the most.
The volunteers “take the time out and talk to us and find out what we did in life, and that’s really important.”
Even Blackman is surprised by how much this has come to mean to him.
“I thought I would just hand them the lunch and keep going. But it has kind of turned into more than I expected it to.”
Barrett Blackman and friends often finance Lil’ Somethin’ with their own money, but they also have a Go Fund Me page.