Student helps the homeless in Miami

Photo courtesy: Kamari West

In the heart of Miami, where the city’s vibrant spirit meets the harsh reality of a growing homeless population, Kamari West has decided to take matters into his own hands.

Fueled by a sense of responsibility and a desire to have a meaningful impact on his community, West is spearheading his third annual “Season of Giving” donation drive for the city’s homeless.

“As I stand amidst this Season of Giving, I’m reminded that our greatest purpose lies in lifting others higher,” West said. “Through the collective generosity of our community, we not only offer hope to the homeless but also build a legacy of compassion that transcends the boundaries of the holiday season.”

He added: “In each donated item and every shared moment, we sow the seeds of change, creating a tapestry of care that weaves through the very fabric of Miami’s heart.”

West, 21, a Miami native who is a fourth year pre-veterinary major at FAMU, has long been aware of the substantial homeless population that is often overlooked.

His daily drives around the city provided him with a stark realization — that there’s a dire need for support and resources among people experiencing homelessness, particularly during the holiday season.

According to the website, there are an estimated 3,472 homeless individuals in Miami-Dade County. That is a 38 percent change from 2018.

California, New York and Florida have the largest homeless populations. Across the three heavily populated states, more than 270,000 people are homeless — nearly half of the U.S. homeless population.

Emergency shelters have been placed where the homeless can find a safe place to stay in case of sudden loss of housing. There were about 1,863 emergency shelter beds in Miami-Dade County.

This realization did not sit right with West, prompting him to channel his skills and resources into creating a donation drive to address a critical yet often overlooked aspect of homelessness.

Kazinique Johnson, an animal science pre-veterinary FAMU student as well as a friend of West, gave her opinion on how West’s donation drive impacts the city of Miami.

“Kamari doesn’t just organize a drive; he orchestrates a symphony of generosity, weaving threads of hope and dignity into the lives of those who need it most. It’s inspiring to witness the impact of his dedication, turning a simple act of kindness into a movement that resonates with the true essence of community,” Johnson said.

Unlike traditional holiday drives that primarily focus on coats and winter gear, West’s “Season of Giving” is unique in its emphasis on personal hygiene products and everyday essentials.

Recognizing the significance of items such as toiletries, sanitary products and other essentials that are often unavailable to people experiencing homelessness, West is dedicated to making a tangible difference in their daily lives.

This year’s initiative is set to be even more impactful as West has forged a partnership with Lorah Park Elementary School and is actively seeking collaborations with local organizations.

The goal is to collect a diverse range of personal hygiene products and essentials that will be put into care packages and distributed to people experiencing homelessness in Miami.

West believes in the power of collaboration and community involvement. By partnering with Lorah Park Elementary he aims to amplify the impact of the “Season of Giving” drive.

The involvement of a local school adds a layer of community engagement. It also instills a sense of empathy and social responsibility among other participants.

The donation drive is currently in full swing, with collection points set up across the city.

West says he’s grateful for any contribution anyone can make to the cause. Any donation can make a significant difference in the lives of those less fortunate, he said.

West’s preferred donations are via CashApp at ($WestKamari); however, feel free to contact West via Instagram (@kamari.west) to arrange physical donations.

As West passionately leads this initiative, he hopes to inspire others to take action and give back to their communities.

“True fulfillment comes not from what we accumulate for ourselves, but from what we contribute to others.

Giving back to people experiencing homelessness is not charity; it is an investment in the collective spirit of compassion that binds us all,” West said.

“Through our actions, let us illuminate the path toward a brighter, more caring future — one where every gesture of kindness creates a ripple effect of positive change in the lives of those who need it most,” he added.

In a city known for its warm winds and cultural richness, West’s efforts are a testament to the power of compassion and community-driven solutions.

For those interested in contributing to Kamari West’s “Season of Giving” homeless donation drive, collection points can be found on his Instagram.