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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ice Cream Helps Keep Homeless Warm

It has been awfully cold and rainy in Los Angeles the past couple of days. It's even colder in other parts of the country. Today, Midwest cities are getting pounded with ice, snow and frigid temperatures. In New York, lows this morning dipped to 25 degrees with snow in the forecast. So, how can we help the homeless to keep warm in winter weather - short of miraculously supplying housing for everyone?

Yesterday, an email arrived on a damp and rainy Friday in Los Angeles. The person asked, “How do the homeless stay warm in times like this?” Well, yesterday’s food line quickly served up gallons of hot coffee, instantly making about 150 people at the very least temporarily warm. But, there is another way that may just offer a more long-lasting solution.

Ewen MacAskill, writer for The Guardian reports that Catholic nuns running a charity in Amsterdam’s city center have made a heartwarming deal with the U.S. Vermont-based ice cream maker, Ben & Jerry's. The homeless people have begun to sport logos on their backs such as Chubby Hubby, Chunky Monkey and Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler. In return for financial help for the center, the nuns have offered to have Ben & Jerry's logos stuck on the backs of new warm jackets for homeless people who volunteer for their innovative fundraiser.

When all is said and done, some feel the program may win points for caring capitalists. Others are concerned that it could be seen as further demeaning an already vulnerable group in society. Erwin van der Laan, a spokesman for the media company behind the project, Bizon Media Group, denied that it was demeaning for the participants to wear the advertisements. He told the Associated Press news agency: "You have to see this as something that they're doing to repay the nuns, something that they're proud of."

Ben & Jerry's was founded in 1978 by childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Its mission statement is "to operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally".

On the plus side, it is admirable that Ben and Jerry’s has taken the risk. It is often very difficult to find companies that are willing to be associated with the homeless. The nuns' provide help for homeless people, alcoholics, drug addicts and prostitutes.

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More on the Internet:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/

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2 comments:

JF said...

Hmmm, not sure how I feel about this one. On the face of it, it does seem demeaning. It could be said that charity should not come with a price. Companies should give for the sake of giving and treating the homeless like sandwich boards for the sake of profit further strips them of their dignity.

On the other hand, why not? Every professional athlete and NASCAR racer is blanketed like an avalanche with sponsor advertisements and logos. And is there a Catholic church in existence without the ultimate advertising logo of the cross and a few dozen assorted Saints? If everyone wins, what’s the harm?

Still, it’s hard to imagine Jesus’ well-worn tunic with a Nike swoosh on it. Maybe if there was a new Ben and Jerry’s vanilla flavor: “Heavenly Host”, or a Middle Eastern flavor, Sacrificial Lamb or, best of all, a new chocolate flavor: “Jamaican Jesus?” The possibilities are endless…

JF

Anonymous said...

J.F. LOL & ROL ;) !!! There is a great point u make in all the humor. Thanks!