While most vending machines are more than happy to feed your Diet Coke obsession, over in the United Kingdom, these machines we take for granted are doing more than spitting out chilled beverages. They're giving out necessities like toothbrushes, socks and even blankets—all for free.
This new approach to combating homelessness, which has been two years in the making, is the brainchild of Huzaifah Khaled, the director of nonprofit organization Action Hunger. "I realized that there had to be a more effective way of getting at least the bare necessities to them [the homeless]," he tells The Washington Post, highlighting the limited and sometimes inconvenient drop-in hours of most homeless shelters.
Users can access the 24/7 machine via a key card they can get through a partnering organization; each card allows someone to access a specific unit up to three times a day. The first of these vending machines was just launched at a shopping mall in Nottingham, and The Washington Post notes more units will quickly be making their way across the Atlantic. New York City will be receiving its own unit next month, with Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to follow shortly.
"In an ideal world, I would never have needed to start this charity," Khaled says. "I would love nothing more than to shutter this charity next week."
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