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Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Another of the many rituals that comes with running a houseless outreach group is the sorting of donations. One of the less frequent but still significant ones is the batteries. We go through a lot of batteries as they are in high demand with the population we support. Flashlights and radios in particular are consistently used by those trying to survive living outside.

I responded to a post a couple of years ago where a gentleman was selling unopened boxes of batteries at a discounted price. I met up and purchased several AAA and AA packs from him. While speaking I mentioned they were going to go to support the houseless and he mentioned he sometimes has loose batteries or off brands he can't sell and asked if I wanted them. Naturally I jumped at the idea and he promised to message me when he had some to unload. Months went by so I reached out again but got no response so I tried again. On this went for a while with my polite but persistent pestering.

Finally he responded he had "some" batteries for me but nothing specific. Not wanting to push my luck I agreed to meet him and he said to bring some totes to transport them. This sounded promising, it meant there was a sizable number. I threw the 3 totes I had into my van and drove to meet him at his house. To my surprise he had 18 totes for me! Luckily he was nice enough to let me take them all so long as I promised to return his totes. I filled every bucket and cardboard box I could find when I got home.

I sorted all of the batteries and discovered in addition to the common sizes there were batteries for watches, hearing aids, scooters, laptops, etc. I had close to a 1,000 lbs! I reached out to my friends in other groups and they eagerly came and picked them up. The nature of that exchange hasn't changed much since the first day. I still have to pester him for responses and he can have anywhere from a couple of small boxes to enough to break an elephants back. Rolling with the punches and sharing the wealth I keep on picking up what he can't use. I'm still unclear on his source but it has something to do with Amazon returns I've gathered.

Today Ana, Lea-Ann (a volunteer in the NE) and I sort, repackaged and prepared the latest batch for other groups to come claim. For the next week we will be very popular but sadly as much as you see in these pictures we will have run out in just a few short weeks.


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