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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Greg Airel is redefining what it means to care.

He’s the President of The Care Crate Company, a Middleburg Heights-based startup, with a big heart.

In fact, a FOX 8 crew was with him moments after he gifted a homeless woman a box of food. When she told Airel she was thirsty, he went to a gas station and bought her a gallon of water.

“I was commuting down I-71 to West 150th and I was just seeing all these different faces all day, who needed food, who were in such…who needed something, and I thought I have the resources, I have a warehouse full of food that is essentially going to waste,” Airel said.

Except, it’s not going to waste at all.

Since May 2020, The Care Crate Company, which specializes in gift boxes, has either donated or packaged around 20,000 pounds of food for the homeless.

It’s perfectly good food, but often too close to expiration.

“We don’t send out anything that has an expiration date of two months or less because that could lead to a bad review. That leaves us with a lot of extra food,” Airel said.

The Care Crate Company partners with several area organizations to distribute the food, like the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and Walls of Love. They also work with Project White Butterfly. So, in many of the homeless care boxes, there’s a handwritten note with information on mental health resources and help for those struggling with addiction.

“My heart is with these people, and the interaction that I have, a small conversation of being like, ‘How are you doing today?’ A lot of people don’t get asked that,” Airel said. 

Airel packaged the first few homeless care boxes himself, but says family members, friends, and employees quickly jumped on board.

Jake Norman, Care Crate Company Warehouse Manager, is one of several employees who’ve joined in passing out the care packages to familiar faces on the way home or, with permission, leaving them behind in public spaces.

“They’re usually surprised to see a box of something as opposed to some change, or a bag of peanuts, or whatever you have in your car at the time,” said Norman.

The point? Showing those in need that someone cares about their wellbeing.

“The idea for the Care Crate Company really comes from the opportunity for us as a business to make people smile,” said Airel. “Just having the act of compassion and then seeing that translate into a smile is the greatest feeling to me for the program.”

If you’re interested in helping distribute care packages as an organization or as an individual, contact The Care Crate Company directly.