Influencer Maya Nepos Uses TikTok Challenge to Feed the St. Louis Homeless Community

Image: Curran Neenan

A psychology student minoring in marketing turned a challenge into a real-life good deed.

Graduating senior Maya Nepos was set to leave her school, Washington University, in a few days when she decided to turn a TikTok challenge into a real-life attempt at feeding the homeless community in her local neighborhood.

As reported by WRCB-TV, Nepos noticed she had $600 worth of unused meal plan money left. A psychology student minoring in marketing, she thought of a fun way to utilize her balance by inviting her nearly 330,000 TikTok followers to follow her journey as she blew money fast for a good cause in two days.

She purchased a large number of snacks from the campus market, encouraging the self-proclaimed social justice and political advocacy creator to give the food to those who’d greatly benefit from it. Eventually, she created care packages equipped with non-perishable food items, masks and containers of hand sanitizer to keep its receiver safe from COVID.

40 people in the St. Louis area were enthusiastic to receive the young woman’s delivery.

Her act of charity and kindness was highlighted by her TikTok page and almost instantly went viral, having garnered seven million views on her profile. “I actually was so focused on trying to make the donations stretch and finding deals on non-perishable foods items that I actually forgot to buy my own groceries that day,” she told reporters. 

Permanent housing interventions have grown by 450% in 5 years, according to PolicyAdvice’s 2021 “State of Homelessness in the U.S.” study. Yet, still with 39.8% of the homeless community consisting of Black Americans, Maya Nepos’ humble act shines light on an issue that needs to be on a downward trend. In St. Louis County, specifically, an estimated 1 out of every 386 people is homeless; statewide, the average is 1 in 706, according to an article published by the Star Tribune in July 2020.

Nepos echoed similar sentiments, sharing, “There needs to be more active community engagement.” Her followers agree and imbued her fundraising campaign with donations from apps like Venmo and PayPal.

She received $746 and delivered an additional 80 to 100 packages to those in need.

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