PHOENIX — When one Valley man sought to help some of our area’s most vulnerable living on the streets, his simple act of kindness spread easily.
Nick Dini used to make the half-hour daily drive across the Valley for work as a software engineer. The 30-year-old said it was pretty common for those living on the street to approach and ask for money when he was at a stoplight.
“Essentially, they don’t have any essentials,” he said.
So instead of reaching for spare change, Nick ended up changing how he spends some of his time on the weekends.
Everywhere he goes, he brings with him multicolored drawstring bags to give to those experiencing homelessness.
The first year, he packed about 50 bags with items like a toothbrush, deodorant and socks.
Once friends and family saw what Nick was doing, they wanted to pitch in and he had to order a lot more bags—each of which became a lot more full.
”Last year 240 [bags], this year another 240, I don’t know, we’re getting closer to a thousand bags or so,” he said when asked to estimate how many bags in total he had handed out so far.
The software engineer measures each bag's cost at just more than $8 these days. He said he buys items in bulk, which cuts costs and allows him to give more.
There are now around 40 items in each bag, including masks, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and even a pen and journal.
Most of the donors are Nick's friends and family— but some are anonymous.
He described what it's like giving essentials in lieu of money.
”The individual interactions when you give a bag and see them light up knowing it’s going to make a difference to them and make a difference for them, that feels good,” he said.
Nick doesn’t have a name for his operation, nor does he have video of him handing them out. But the does have a lot of people who want to help him.
Those volunteers are coming over this Saturday to help fill more bags.
For those who wish to donate.
“The drive is just to make a positive impact and hopefully change somebody’s life for the better,” he said.