“It came about randomly,” Jessie Sponberg said about his idea to collect the Chalupa tickets handed out after Blazer games and help Portland’s homeless population.
“Housless rights were on my mind. I saw Chalupas, and thought, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of Chalupas…what if all of those Chalupas went to homeless people?”
So he grabbed a bag, made a sign, and headed to the Rose Garden after a Blazer’s victory. (For those out of the loop, everyone who attends a Blazer game gets a coupon for a free Taco Bell Chalupa if the Blazers get a victory AND score over 100 points.)
“The only reason that this even works out, is because of the new up-tempo offense. Now that Brandon Roy’s gone we actually have the potential.” He said.
Jessie has been handing the tickets out personally to people in need and donating them to Portland organizations such as The Downtown Chapel, Right2DreamToo, Catholic Women’s Charities, and Janus Youth’s Yellow Brick Road Program–which specifically addresses street kids.
“People getting these Chalupas, often times their other option is eating out of the garbage. Sure there are places (homeless people) can eat downtown, but if you can’t get in line in time before they close you have to find something else,” Jessie said. “It creates this broader sense of social responsibility. People realize that this Chalupa can mean more to someone else. Kids come up and are so excited to be a part of something bigger. I tell kids all the time, ‘You’re going to change the world little man.'”
This is not at all Jessie’s entry into helping those less fortunate. He has also organizes hip-hop showcases which raise coats, blankets and canned food for the community. His most popular event is Food Wars–which puts local hip hop talent in a competition to see who can raise the most canned food.
Participating in the Chalupa drive is a simple process: watch the Blazer game; if the Blazer’s are on pace to score 100 points in a victory, drive to the Rose Garden and meet at the southeast corner of the Rose Quarter, (under the big L.E.D. sign, near the busses) during the 4th quarter.
” Nobody wants to help, everybody wants to say that it’s such a great idea, and that we are doing something super cool, but then nobody wants to come out and help. Everybody has the same amount of hands and pockets that I do,” he said. “The first game was kick ass, we had eight people. We’ve never had more than ten people there to help.”
Still, they have managed to collect over 4000 Chalupa tickets since the beginning of the year, and are always looking for new charities to donate them too.