LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A hot cup of coffee on a cold morning is a daily habit for most people, but for others, even that small comfort is out of reach.
But for one good Samaritan, that little bit of warmth is how he shows his respect for those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
"We were like broke, we had no money," Jacob Baruch, founder of Project Coffee Cup, said about his childhood. "It just so happens that this homeless man was walking by, and out of nowhere handed my mom $20."
Baruch grew up in Compton and recalled how his mom reluctantly accepted the money to buy food and put gas in their car before leaving what was left on the collection plate at their church.
"And ever since then, I've never judged a homeless person," Baruch said.
As an adult, Baruch launched Project Coffee Cup, a homeless outreach program that uses a cup of coffee as an icebreaker to talk with people experiencing homelessness. He funds the program with money his clients pay him to transform canvas shoes into one-of-a-kind works of art. It has also helped him grieve the passing of his mother.
"My mom always supported me," he said. "She always loved my art, but I don't think she knew the impact that she had on my life. I wish she was here to see it."
When Baruch is not consoling the homeless with coffee and conversation, he hosts painting workshops to give hope and promote imagination for kids who are struggling.
"I prayed that I'd have an opportunity to speak to the youth that needed to hear something positive, and you guys showed up," Baruch said.
In a recent workshop, Baruch worked with area youths who had previously served time and were working on their second chance at life. The kids thought they were going to be removing graffiti in Compton, but instead were treated to a painting class thanks to the kindness of Project Coffee Cup.
But the generosity of Project Coffee Cup goes beyond offering up a warm beverage and friendly conversation. Baruch drives from his Chino home to Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles every week to hand out hygiene packs, socks and blankets to the homeless.
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