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Triangle Freethought Society members Carmen and Donald Zepp saw hungry people in their community and knew they could—and should—do something about it.
It all started on January 28, 2012. Carmen had the idea that they should share food with anyone who might be hungry, so Carmen, Donald, and their four-year-old son took a pot of soup to Moore Square in Raleigh, NC. When their first meager soup supply ran out quickly, with people still asking for more, they realized what a need there must be and decided to expand their efforts. Thus, Human Beans Together was born. Donald says, “Our intent has always been simply to help the homeless and hungry. We had seen other Raleigh organizations in operation that require their ‘clients’ to endure proselytizing before they could have food; we wanted simply to help, no strings attached.”
Every Sunday at 11:00 am, the Human Beans Together crew brings food (and sometimes clothes, toiletries, and other useful items) to share with people in need. About seven people form the core group of regulars, and ten to twelve others have volunteered time and support. According to the Zepps, everyone who has pitched in has commented on the extent of the need and the way the food simply disappears in minutes.
The Zepps’ biggest challenges have been financial. Says Donald, “In the eight weeks we have been offering food, only once did we have even a small amount of leftovers—every other time, we have had to turn hungry people away. With Carmen being unemployed and my being retired, we two simply cannot expand to meet the need. Fortunately, others have stepped up to help, and we continue to grow.”
When asked what advice the Zepps would offer to others who want to volunteer and don’t know how to get started, Donald says, “Do as we did. Just go out and do it. Go where the homeless congregate and take some food to share. (We do take a "Free Soup" sign each week). Ask them about their needs and wants. Don't preach—listen. Carmen and I know that we cannot end homelessness. We know, too, that there are many others in this world who have far greater needs and problems than Raleigh's homeless. But these are the people we pass by every day in our towns and cities. Regardless of their problems, they are hungry, and that's something we can do something about right now.”
If you would like to offer support to Human Beans Together, you can contact them here.