It started almost as a lark. Kevin Quinn heard the temperatures in Boise on Saturday were going to be in the 100s, so he went to the store, stocked up on water, ice and apples, and started driving around to city parks, looking for homeless men and women, or anyone else in rough shape, to give them to.
Indeed, the temperatures on Saturday broke records. Quinn, whose day job is selling commercial insurance, ended up spending five or six hours outside distributing the much-appreciated items.
He did the same thing on Sunday, when 110-degree weather set a record for Boise in June. Word began to spread and more people got involved after Quinn put out a plea for ice. A friend who owns a Downtown bar donated a truckload of ice. Another friend donated more water. Quinn estimates he gave away 600 bottles of cold water on Sunday alone.
That night, Quinn realized that the heat wave wouldn’t end any time soon and that he needed more product. He’d been buying supplies out of his own pocket, with a few donations. A friend encouraged him to open a GoFundMe crowd-sourcing page. That page, Water for the Homeless!, raised more than $550 in one day. After the Idaho Statesman posted a story about Quinn’s efforts Tuesday morning, word spread further. By Tuesday afternoon, he’d raised more than $1,700 through GoFundMe.
That’s a good thing, since Quinn said he’ll be outside each day giving supplies away until the heat wave breaks. That’s not expected to happen for several more days.
More people are stepping up to help, Quinn said. In addition to his insurance work, Quinn runs Crush, a wine and martini bar in Eagle. Hearing of his efforts to keep people cool and safe, people are donating survival packs filled with sunscreen, hats and other items at the bar. Quinn was moved recently when a man in Albertsons recognized him and handed him $10 on the spot.
Quinn is getting to know the people he’s helping, too.
“As I’m out there, I’m starting to find more people and they’re trusting me,” said Quinn. “And they’re telling me where to find more people.”
He’s making the rounds, through Ann Morrison, Julia Davis and Veterans parks, as well as the streets near the city’s homeless shelters. Quinn said he’s done charitable work before, but nothing on the scale of his current project.
The people he’s aiding have already given him a nickname: “Boston,” for the baseball cap he wears.
AnaMarie Guiles, housing and community development manager for the city of Boise, said Quinn is one example of generosity in Boise. She encourages people who want to help others to consider also donating to local nonprofits.
Among them: Corpus Christi day shelter in Boise is in need of light summer clothing, especially shorts and T-shirts, baseball caps, sunglasses, sunscreen and water. Donors can drop items at the shelter, 525 Americana Blvd. in Boise. Call 426-0039 for more information.
Another effort to help fight the heat: The city recently opened a day shelter for families at 500 S. Ash St. in the River Street neighborhood for the duration of the heat wave. Manager Paul Schoenfelder said fewer than 10 people are using the shelter each day. It will remain open through the holiday and the city will reassess then how much longer it should remain open. The shelter is not in need of donations at this time.