News / Calgary

Anonymous Calgary members reach out to homeless

Hacktivist group heads to the street

Anonymous members in Calgary have been roaming the streets one a week, reaching out to Calgary’s homeless and pointing them towards resources.

Anonymous / Submitted

Anonymous members in Calgary have been roaming the streets one a week, reaching out to Calgary’s homeless and pointing them towards resources.

Anonymous – the activist collective famous for computer hacking– has a campaign to help the homeless in Calgary

Dubbed OPsafewinter, the operation is part of a national movement that has Anonymous members approaching the homeless to offer assistance and resources.

While members do value anonymity – it isn’t that hard to get in touch with the collective. A message on Facebook received a response within minutes.

The female who answered the phone said they’ve been helping the homeless for over a year by heading out once a week.

“We’re a roaming group,” she said. “We take gloves, socks, gift cards, maybe a couple of sandwiches and drinks –we take that out to the people for immediate concerns.”

The woman said Anonymous’ main goal is to help homeless people get in touch with established groups that are able to provide better care, such as YYC Helping Homeless.

She said it’s more about giving a hand up than a hand out, and helping people get off the street.

The woman on the phone said she recently stressed the importance of the masks to other members.

 “Since we started, people haven’t been wearing their masks and I kind of put my foot down this week and said, ‘This is an Anonymous event, we need to start wearing our masks more often.’”

She said once they start interacting with people on a more personal level, they will take off their masks.

After a 15-minute conversation, the woman provided another phone number, where a male answered the phone.

He explained that OPsafewinter Calgary is an offshoot of the larger Anonymous collective idea of OPsafewinter. While OPsafewinter has about 12 regular participants, the Calgary Anonymous collective has several thousand members.

The man said Anonymous has some money it gets through donations, and OPsafewinter is able to access those funds to buy things such as socks and gloves.

“We’re really good about showing the receipts and showing where the money goes,” he said, adding the receipts are posted to Facebook.

The man said having a collective instead of formal organization is important, because it prevents any one member from going on a power trip.

“The mask really reflects that,” he said. “We all have the same mask – we’re all showing we’re all relatively equal and one.”