There are currently 582,462 homeless individuals in the USA, according to Security.org. However, 16-year-old Zac Levy from New Jersey, United States, is looking to change that. Now, the inspirational teen has set up his very own 'Project Unhoused', and shows no signs of slowing down.
His strong passion for helping the homeless first began when he and his father spotted a young homeless teen physically struggling while waiting in line at the convenience store, 7/11. After Zac's father kindly paid for her drink, they both headed outside, where they spotted the young girl among a larger group of homeless people. This moving scene ignited Zac's desire to help and to better understand how individuals ended up in this unfortunate situation — especially at such a young age. His mission was now set.
Fast forward, and Zac has now set up his very own Project Unhoused, with an aim to help the homeless and spread awareness about the issue as far as he possibly can. To date, he has achieved some incredible feats. Since starting his own project, Zac has organized his very own 'Winter Clothing Drive', collecting items such as blankets, pillows, hats, and gloves, among other useful items to give to the homeless. To spread his message, the 16-year-old walked around town himself, hanging up flyers to gain as much exposure as possible.
If this wasn't inspiring enough, he has already conducted his first interviews with several homeless individuals, which he plans to use as part of his very own book. The book aims to help spread awareness and get to the root cause of what makes people homeless. He hopes that this information can then be used to further help people and to make impactful changes that make a difference.
Speaking to Happy Headlines, Zac explains how it feels to be having such a positive impact on his local community: "In my experience there really is no greater feeling than helping others. Especially through the coat drives. We have been able to put a smile on so many people's faces and every time I see the weather drop below freezing I think about the people who wouldn't have had a jacket and blankets if not for our efforts. Just the other week my dad and I were driving through Asbury and saw one of the men we gave a jacket to out on a walk."
He also went on to add: "The bigger impact I hope will come through the book I am working on. It is so common for people to effectively dehumanize those experiencing homelessness, and the people I have interviewed have really felt that. I hope that my book will widen their horizons and affect the way people tend to think about homelessness."
Unsurprisingly, his efforts certainly haven't gone unnoticed by his local community either. As well as Zac's inspiring story being picked up by several other online publications, the hundreds of homeless individuals that he is helping also seem to be extremely appreciative of his efforts. You can support Zac directly through his Go Fund Me page, where contributions will be donated directly to his cause.
So, what's next for Project Unhoused? Expanding upon our discussion, Zac details his next steps for his impactful project: "I have already been working on the next steps to expand the reach of Project Unhoused! I am working with wholesalers to curate men's and women's care packages with specific items I learned through my conversations with those experiencing homelessness that they need the most. I plan to start distributing those within the next few weeks! Additionally, I would like to create a correspondence program in which like-minded students nationwide can bring Project Unhoused to their schools/communities. They can raise money and purchase these care packages at production cost to distribute to their community members in need."
Of course, his parents are also incredibly proud of their son's efforts, and hope he can continue to change the world for the better. Speaking for herself and Zac's father, Zac's mother, Izzy, explains how it feels to watch her son have such a positive impact on his community: "They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I often feel as if I am being raised by mine. Zac has taught me compassion, love, and an innate care for all of God‘s great creatures, and for humanity as a whole."