A $35 investment is bringing something good to the homeless in North Texas. That money could potentially save a life.
"Every year in Dallas-Fort Worth, multiple homeless folks literally freeze to death., and a sleeping bag can literally save a life," said Chris Bailey, the organizer of the sleeping bag drive.
"The sleeping bags are $35 apiece. They're good quality Coleman sleeping bags rated down to 20 degrees. So, it'll handle cold weather. Again, these will literally save somebody's life."
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Bailey has a wish list on Amazon where donors buy a sleeping bag "or two or ten," he says, ship it to his house in Denton County and he delivers them to homeless shelters.
He launched the sleeping bag drive on December 26, and 10 days in, he's collected close to 1,200 bags. It's far surpassed the effort in 2019 when he collected 769 bags in the 35-day drive.
"The response has been overwhelming. I had to call my boss and tell 'em I need a couple of days off to handle all this," said a foundation repair salesman. "I have the greatest boss in the world. He was good with that."
Boxes of sleeping bags are piled in Bailey's driveway and in the garage. Students from Byron Nelson High School come in the afternoons to help unpack then dismantle boxes so Bailey can get them to shelters like The Bridge and Austin Street Shelter in Dallas and True Worth and Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth.
Bailey started the drive five years ago after crossing paths with a homeless man on New Year's Eve. Bailey was a designated driver that night and as he waited on the group, he saw a man who needed help and took him to get a meal. That encounter put him on his path.
"I set a New Year's resolution years ago to help or feed at least one homeless person a week," he said. "One person a week. Fifty-two weeks. That ended up being a little too easy, so we ramped it up from there. We try to help as many people as we can. practice the golden rule."
Bailey calls his grassroots effort Everybody Love Everybody. It was born out of a comment he posted on social media following the deadly ambush on Dallas officers in 2016.
"I wrote on my Facebook, 'Everybody love everybody.' And, one of my friends commented immediately, 'That's impossible.' And that crushed me. I just figured there's enough hate out there, let's see if we can maybe turn that around and do something that's the opposite of hate. And everybody love everybody is what I came up with. I wrote it on my sign, and I still to this day, I'll get on street corners and stand there with my sign and wave at cars that pass by," he said.
Everybody Love Everybody turned into a movement of people across North Texas. Each doing what they can to spread love and positivity by doing simple little things that can make a big difference. The page on Facebook followed by 40,000 and counting emphatically states, "WE ONLY SPREAD THE LOVE HERE!!"
The sleeping bag drive will go on through the end of January. Find his wish list on Amazon here.