Chicago student's 'SPARK' program for homeless tremendously successful

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - There are over 100,000 people on the streets in Chicago due to homelessness, and many are hungry.

But now, a student at UIC believes the solution to the problem may simply be acts of random kindness.

In less than a year, Mitch Granger’s 'SPARK' program has been so successful that other schools and organizations in Chicago are eager to learn granger's method of feeding those in need.

"We are going to be teaming up with DePaul, Chicago State and other schools in Chicago, and I’m going to teach them how simple this is," Granger said.

It’s a simple solution that aims to feed the hungry one meal at a time.

"We like to think of it as a daily battle,” he said.

It’s a battle granger started fighting 10 months ago when he created SPARK, which stands for ‘Students Providing Acts of Random Kindness.’ It was a spur of the moment idea to help feed Chicago’s homeless.

"It’s hard to tackle a problem like this from the top," he said.

It’s not politicians, but ordinary people helping people, which is why Granger and his volunteers are taking their solution directly to the street.

"We are seeing it on the front lines. we are helping these people on a daily basis," he said.

On Saturday, hundreds of SPARK volunteers packed lunches on the campus of UIC.

Granger’s SPARK will have fed 1000 people in less than a year.

"It's a grass roots campaign,” he added.

It’s a campaign that is more than just handing out food.

"There are a lot of people, we need help, and more importantly, a lot of people who really need you to take a moment to talk with them and talk about their problems," Granger said.

It’s that small talk that Granger believes can lift spirits and hopefully encourage the people he feeds to find a way off the streets.

"We take for granted friendship, love and connection. These people are humans. They need love and connection. They need someone to sit down and ask how their day is going. We are providing that for them," he said.

Is it a permanent solution? Well, maybe not.

"I wish there was a way to say, if we did this, if we did that, we could end homelessness and hunger in Chicago, but really there is no perfect solution for it," Granger said. "We hear all the time that what you are doing won't make a difference in the long run."

He added, "Maybe we can't end hunger and homelessness in Chicago, but at least we are trying."

Granger said that if you want to help Chicago’s homeless, you don't need SPARK. You can go out in the city and feed the homeless right now if you want. You can go open the door for someone, and smile a little brighter.

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