Jason Winter isn’t trying to solve homelessness. He’s just trying to make homeless people feel better about themselves.
It starts with a fresh set of clothes and some soap and water.
Rainbow-tinted bus brings soap and hope to those in need: Many people avoid eye contact and drive by. But when Jason drives up, they know the next few hours will be full of dignity and kindness.
Posted by USA TODAY on Friday, 14 September 2018
Every Friday, Winter loads up his rainbow-tinted bus with donated clothing and other personal hygiene products. And every Saturday, he drives it an hour from Buford, Ga. to downtown Atlanta to fill up the shower trailer’s water tank. A full tank can provide twenty-seven people with showers.
As soon as the bus shows up beeping its horn, people wave and come over. For the next few hours people who haven’t showered in weeks, or even months, line up for their turn. While they wait, they can pick out a fresh set of clothes, get a haircut, dance to the music and grab a bite to eat.
“As a kid, we had a lot of stuff, we were very fortunate. When I got older, I realized that having all these things – a house, a bed, a job, a car – it’s all great, but for me, giving back… that’s my fancy car,” says Winter in an interview with USA Today.
In the winter of 2016, Winter, along with a group of friends, used to collect donations and hand them out to people in need every Saturday. They distributed hats, scarves, and blankets to keep people warm. As the months went by it became hot, Winter wanted to continue helping his community.
“We started getting to know these folks. I asked the guys and the ladies, ‘If you could have anything, what would you want right now?’ and they all said a shower. So I decided to bring the shower to them,” recalls Winter.
Winter bought a shower trailer and hitched it to the back of his SUV. In the beginning, it was just Winter and his friends Mike Stone and Stephanie Dooley. Now, Hope thru Soap is an operation that serves up to 300 people with the help of 6 to 30 volunteers. The monthly cost is about $1100 per month, and it’s entirely donation-based.