In The Spirit Of Giving

A Man Devised A Brilliant Amazon Prime Hack To Help Homeless New Yorkers Keep Warm

"My hope is that (Amazon employees) see this, and realize their potential to help enable giving."

We love tinsel and trappings as much as the next Elf on the Shelf devotees, but here at A Plus, we believe that true wintertime magic comes in the form of connection and human kindness. Over the next month, come back and join us in raising a glass to those who give — because what's December without a little holiday spirit?

Rob Bliss, a videographer living in New York City, has seen a rise in homelessness in the Big Apple. As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, he was hoping to help some of those men and women who spend many frigid days and nights on the street with nowhere to go, so he enlisted the help of Amazon Prime Now.

APN, as it is known, is the tech giant's instant delivery feature that brings goods to your door within a few hours or less. Instead of using the popular service to order in food or last minute gifts, Bliss thought to enlist it to assist those in need. "What if we could repurpose the same apps we use to bring ourselves ice cream and iPhone chargers to finally bring that guy a pair of socks?" Bliss asked in the video below.

In said video, which Bliss filmed on the streets of New York City earlier this month, he can be seen approaching a number of homeless people on the street and asking them what they need. He got several requests for shoes, socks, and other items that will keep those on the streets warm as the temperatures drop.

"I had been thinking about how popular apps could be repurposed from their original uses, and it came to me that apps that deliver within one to two hours could likely make deliveries to people in need, too," Bliss told Today.com.

One of Bliss' biggest worries was that without an address those in need wouldn't receive what he had ordered for them, so he included in the delivery instructions that these orders were intended for people on the street. Much to his surprise, all of Amazon's couriers handled the deliveries with care and compassion, and many even offered encouraging words or kind gestures to those they were delivering to.

"I was definitely surprised by how sweet and caring the couriers were," Bliss explained to the outlet. "I was concerned that the couriers would have a lot of hesitation or stigmatize these people, but they took to it like fish to water ... you could tell they enjoyed it and it meant something to them."

Not surprisingly, all who received the Prime Now packages were incredibly grateful. Said one homeless man, "God bless. Thank you so much."

According to a report from Politico, which Bliss actually cited in his video, homelessness in New York City increased by about 40 percent from 2016 to 2017. More specifically, the report found there were 3,892 people homeless and unsheltered in 2017, which was up from 2,794 last winter. On a country-wide level, the National Alliance to End Homelessness reports 564,708 people were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program on a single night in January 2015.

Though Bliss' moving video has gone viral — it has garnered nearly two million views in the week since it was uploaded — he's still looking to get Amazon's attention so they can help those in need on a larger scale. "My hope is that (Amazon employees) see this, and realize their potential to help enable giving," he explained in the video.

While Amazon hasn't made any formal commitment to help just yet, Dave Clark, the company's SVP of Operations, was impressed by Bliss' work and how Amazon employees handled the transactions.

"Love the idea of using Prime Now to spread Holiday cheer," Clark tweeted. "And it looks like the delivery folks loved it too!"

As a heads up, A Plus may collect a portion of sales from affiliate links — which we'll use to support our journalism.

More From A Plus

GET SOME POSITIVITY IN YOUR INBOX

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.