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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