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A group of Upstate atheists plans to hand out care packages downtown this weekend after the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen wouldn't let them volunteer.
On Saturday, about 10 people are expected to gather across from the soup kitchen and hand out care packages to the homeless. The 300 packages contain socks, gloves, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, soap, rain ponchos, snacks, shaving razors, antiseptic wipes, deodorants, tissues and gum.
"I hope we can provide a package for everyone who needs one," said Eve Brannon, president of Upstate Atheists, a group started in 2011 that includes about 200 members. "Whatever we have left, we will donate to a homeless shelter in the Upstate."
Brannon, 25, said they decided to hand out care packages to the homeless after being told they could not volunteer at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen.
"I told them we wouldn't wear our T-shirts. We wouldn't tell anyone who we are with. We just want to help out," Brannon said. "And they told us that we were not allowed."
"This is a ministry to serve God" she said. "We stand on the principles of God. Do they (atheists) think that our guests are so ignorant that they don't know what an atheist is? Why are they targeting us? They don't give any money. I wouldn't want their money."
"We can all work together to achieve something positive regardless of religion or lack thereof," she said. "We've raised money for March of Dimes, worked with the Generous Garden Project, done community park clean ups, adopted a highway, and sponsored local foster children for Christmas."
I was hoping we'd not only be able to volunteer at the soup kitchen, but also to wear our Upstate Atheists shirts. Not because we are trying to 'convert' people to Atheism, but because we want people to understand that Atheists are not evil people.
I'm afraid to tell people I'm an Atheist, because Atheism seems to be synonymous with evil and hatred. But you don't have to believe in a higher power just to have morals. And what's more, since we're Atheists, we're not expecting a reward of any sort, in this life or any other, we're helping people simply for the sake of helping people. If we could go to places like the soup kitchen, volunteer our time, and be openly Atheist, then the world would start to understand that we can be good people.
We're not trying to get you to be an Atheist. We just want you to be ok with us being Atheist.