ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – It was an idea that started a year ago, but the organizer never thought how much of an impact a hygiene vending machine would have until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“A lady gave us a free vending machine. She wanted us to get into the snack business,” said Street Team Movement Founder Briana Daniel.
Daniel said they had other plans. The nonprofit helps provide the homeless with a safe place to shower and offers free laundry services. They wanted to create a convenient way for homeless people to get the hygiene items they need, when they need it.
“We spent a lot of time out on the streets talking to our homeless friends and saying, ‘here is a list of things we want to put in the machines, what are we missing?’ We didn’t know that a lot of them asked for shoelaces and those with jobs needed bus passes,” said Daniel.
In response, they created hygiene vending machines, filled with items like toothpaste, ponchos, tampons and other sanitary items. The first one was installed inside the Sunshine Coin Laundry in Parramore on 700 West Livingston Street. Street Team Movement also partnered with local artists to decorate the machines. The organization even receiving a grant for four additional machines.
Daniel said the pandemic created obstacles for the partnerships created early on.
“One of the vending machine companies we were working with closed due to the pandemic... Some of the businesses that we did partner with early on to stock the vending machines, they ended up closing due to outbreaks in their offices,” said Daniel.
Overcoming those obstacles, the Street Team Movement continued their vision of offering free hygiene supplies through the vending machines. Donations keep the supplies stocked, while members of the homeless community can apply for a Hope Card that gives them access to the machines. With the card they get two swipes in the machine every week.
To donate or apply for a ‘Hope Card’ you can call 407-476-8022 or visit their website at streetmovement.org.
The other four hygiene vending machines are expected to be installed in the next few months around Orlando. The Street Team Movement has plans to expand the program throughout Central Florida.