Despite the cold weather, there was a fairly long line in front of a certain store on Carnaby Street in London, appropriately named, Choose Love, during Black Friday. The thing about this store is that it’s unlike any other regular store that you can find in the city, and the people who were waiting in line weren’t even looking to find a bargain for the shopping holiday. Actually, they were waiting in line in order to purchase some gifts for refugees.
Choose Love is a pop-up store that was set up by a charity called Help Refugees, where they invite the visitors to shop their hearts out, leave empty-handed, and then feel the love. The shop offers a wide variety of items that refugees need, such as solar lamps, sleeping bags, and emergency blankets. The chief executive of the charity, Josie Naughton, said that since it’s around Christmas that people tend to give the most gifts in the year, they decided to focus on giving gifts to the people who aren’t that lucky.
The store itself is separated into three areas, with each area exploring the different stages of every refugee’s journey. It starts with the survival, moves on to the shelter, and finally, the future. This is also the second year that the charity has been running this pop-up store, but this year, they also opened a store of a similar kind in New York too. Meanwhile, last year, the store in London managed to raise £750,000 (over $950,000), from in-store and online sells. The entirety of those funds helped provide refugees with around 800,000 meals, 25,000 essential winter items for the adults, as well as 3,556 nights of accommodation.
According to the chief executive of Help Refugees, none of the people who were working for the charity or the store ever expected to be so popular or successful. But then they saw random people, who, out of the kindness of their own hearts wanted to help others who are in need, walk into the store, see a kid’s shoe, and, upon realizing how difficult life is for refugees, burst into tears. So instead of constantly hearing about numbers, when it comes to refugees, the people can now see humanity when it comes to the refugee crisis.